‘Asadoya Yunta’ – A Common Bond for Okinawans the World Over

Last updated 9/10/14, 6/5/15, 3/16/16

I found the following YouTube video on Rodney Inefuku’s Facebook page. It’s the best version I’ve heard thus far. [Update 3/16/16: It’s among the best I’ve heard.]

“Asadoya Yunta” [安里屋ユンタ] is a traditional folk song from Taketomi Island in the Yaeyama district, Okinawa. According to Tomo Yaimanchu, “It is … about a beautiful lady, ‘Asadoya nu Kuyama’ who was brave enough to reject the wedding proposal from a government man. The Japanese government came to Ryukyu and ruled around that era, so this song has a little anti-government theme. The Asadoya nu Kuyama’s house is one of the tourist attractions in Taketomi Island. If you are on a water buffalo ride, the Ojii will play sanshin and s[i]ng it for you!”

Yaimanchu explains that “yunta” is a style that distinguishes “Yaeyama songs and dances … from other parts of Okinawa. Yunta sing about intensive labors (farming), a joy of and a prayer for an abundant harvest of crops, love, building houses, etc. in a narrative fashion.”1

Added 6/5/15: “安里屋ユンタ Asadoya Yunta / 上間綾乃 Ayano Uema” uploaded by shimauta4u on 12/21/13. Removed from YouTube by Columbia Records.

The following version of the song is by Coi-na. The 4th stanza differs from the lyrics2 below.

Coi-na, l-r,

Coi-na (コイナ), l-r, Arakaki Ai (新垣愛, from Nishihara), Kamiunten Nanako (上運天奈々子, from Naha-Shuri), and Miyagi Seri Yonashi (宮城世梨, from Haebaru).

“Asadoya Yunta” Lyrics in Romaji

Saa kimi wa nonaka no ibara no hana sa
saa yui yui
kurete kaereba yareho ni hikitomeru
mata hari nu chin dara kanushamayo

Saa ureshi hazukashi ukina o tatete
saa yui yui
nushi wa shirayuri yarehoni mama naranu
mata hari nu chin dara kanushamayo

Saa takusa toru nara izayoi tsukiyo
saa yui yui
futari de kigane mo yarehoni mizu irazu
mata hari nu chin dara kanushamayo

Saa somete agemasho konji no kosode
saa yui yui
kakete okureyo nasake no tasuki
mata hari nu chin dara kanushamayo

Saa Okinawa yoi toko ichido wa mensooree
saa yui yui
haru natsu aki fuyu midori no shima yo
mata hari nu chin dara kanushamayo3

Okinawans have emigrated to different parts of the world, but they share a common culture and take pride in perpetuating it. “Asadoya Yunta” is a song that unites them across national, cultural, and language boundaries. Here are some examples:

Hawaii
Added 3/16/16: 『安里屋ユンタ』 ✿ 夏川りみ [Natsukawa Rimi] ✿小錦 [Konishiki] ✿ ジェイク・シマブクロ [Jake Shimabukuro]. Uploaed to YouTube 5/26/12

The following video, uploaded to YouTube by Kosen Ishikawa on 7/15/12, features a performance at the West Kauai Hongwanji Bon Dance in Hanapepe. The lyrics are included in the video, karaoke style, and synced with the dance movements.

 London

Argentina

Peru

Brazil

Chicago

Los Angeles

Osaka

Kawasaki, Kanagawa

Shinjuku, Tokyo

Update 3/16/16: The strength of “Asadoya Yunta” is in its simplicity. It’s a song for the people, the common folk. But its universal appeal also invites creative arrangements, and here are two examples. The first adds the edginess and defiance of rock to make a political statement, and the second adds the power of pop.

MONGOL800 / 安里屋ユンタク  uploaded to YouTube 1/31/09

安里屋ユンタ 夏川りみ (Natsukawa Rimi) uploaded to YouTube 5/1/12

__________
1 From Okinawa Glossary. Originally posted in a listserv, Uchinanchu Network, on 9/7/99.
2 These lyrics are a compilation from: Lyricsmode, Coi-na, Akira Uema, and the West Kauai Hongwanji Bon Dance.
3 This last verse appears in Akira Uema’s version on YouTube, 2/1/07.

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4 Responses to ‘Asadoya Yunta’ – A Common Bond for Okinawans the World Over

  1. The first time I heard this song, it was performed by Coi-na. I thought “how could this get any better?” But I believe my favorite version is from Natsukawa Rimi. Just a personal preference.
    Anyway, thanks for the post. I am enjoying some very fine Okinawan music thanks to you.

  2. Pingback: Nubui Kuduchi Radio Show! | 上り口説 Nubui Kuduchi

  3. Pingback: Ryukuan Fantasy for Band by Yasuhide Ito – Wind Band Literature

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