U.S. Military Bases and Funshi (Feng Shui): The Anti-Base Movement and Community Development in Yomitan, Okinawa

April 22nd at 3:00 pm, Crawford Hall 115

Tomoaki Hara
Associate Professor of Anthropology, Shizuoka University, Japan

The 1997 city master plan of Yomitan Village, Okinawa, is unique in all of Japan in that it uses funshi (“feng shui”) as one of its key concepts. In the Ryukyu Kingdom prior to the 1879 annexation, feng shui was mainly used by the noble classes and played an important role in governmental public works projects. After the Meiji period, feng shui was introduced into the daily lives of the former commoner people in Okinawa and transformed into funshi. This paper considers the use of funshi by these Okinawan city planners as an example of the cultural identities forged by Yomitan’s community development in its struggle against U.S. military bases established during and after World War II. To properly contextualize the evolution of this unique anti-base movement and community development from the 1970s to the present day, this paper also traces the history of Yomitan before, during, and after the war. Special consideration is given to this movement’s value of bunka (“culture”), its unprecedented construction of public facilities on U.S. military bases, and villagers’ memory of their pre-war land.

Tomoaki Hara is currently a Fulbright Visiting Scholar at UH Mānoa and the East-West Center. He has been conducting ethnographic and historical research in Okinawa and Hawai’i which focuses on the intersections of memory, media, community, and identity of the Okinawan people both within and outside Okinawa. His Japanese publications include Domesticating Electronic Media: A New Perspective of Cross-Cultural Field Studies (co-edited with T. Iida, Serika Shobo 2005) and The Dynamics of Folk Culture: The Interweaving of Folk, Official, Popular, and Academic Culture in Yonaguni, Okinawa (Doseisha 2000). He has also published one of the most extensive English-language review articles on the history of Okinawan studies in Japan, available at: http://office-hara.travel-way.net/contents/okinawanstudies.pdf.

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