Original art, apparel, and accessories of Hawaii and Asia by Rob Kajiwara

Nubui Kuduchi







Nubui Kuduchi is a traditional Ryukyu (Okinawan) kutin (classical court) song. It was written not long after the Satsuma Invasion of 1609. The Satsuma imposed heavy taxes on the prosperous Ryukyu Kingdom, requiring them to send representatives to Kagoshima, around 480 miles (770 km) to the north. The journey was long, difficult, and dangerous.

Though Ryukyuans resented the Japanese, they were forbidden to say anything negative about them under penalty of death. Thus, Ryukyuans began writing poetry and music in coded language to conceal their contempt towards the Japanese.

Nubui Kuduchi is written in Okinawan-Japanese, which is an Okinawan rendering of the Japanese language. It contains a mixture of both Okinawan and Japanese words. It tells the story of those who were forced to go on the journey to Kagoshima as they leave home, saying goodbye to loved ones.


It's sequel, Kudai Kuduchi, tells the story of the return journey home, and contains much happier lyrics.


Lyrics:


Tabi nu njitachi Kwannundoo Shinti Kwannun
Fushi wugadi kugani shaku toti tachi wakaru

Sudi ni furuchiyu ushi harayi ufudoo machibara
Ayumiyuku yukiba hachiman sugiji

Miiji takahashi uchiwatati sudi wu chiraniti
Muru fitu nu yuku mu kayiru mu naka nu hashi

Uchi nu subamadi uya ku choode chiriti wakayuru
Tabi gurumu sudi tu sudi tu ni chiyu namida

Funi nu tumujina tukuduku tu funaku isamiti
Mafu hikiba kaji ya matumu ni nma fichiji

Matan miguri woo guyin tuti maniku oojiya
Migushiku zampa misachin atu nimiti

Ihyadu tatsu nami ushi suyiti michi nu shima jima
Miwatashiba shichi tu tunakan nadayashiku

Muyuru chimuri ya yoogashima sada nu misachin
Hayi naradi yei
Ari ni miyuru wa ukayimun fuji ni mimagoo sakura jima


Translation:

The day has come for us to go on our long journey.
As we head out we stop by the Temple of Kanon to pay our respects and pray for safe travels.

We wipe the morning dew from our sleeves as we make our way along the bustling Machibara street.
Next we cross the magnificent bridge of Tumai and board our ship.
Our families are on the other side, waving goodbye to us.
We cannot stop our tears falling like rain.
Our ship sets sail and the southern wind pushes us forward.
We sail around the cape of Migushiku and see the cherry blossoms in bloom.
As we sail past the northern part of the island we see our family and friends who had traveled there to see us off one more time before we pass out of sight towards the northern Amami Islands.
The smell of sulfur accompanies the sight of burning smoke of the northern islands as we head towards our fate in Kagoshima.




Rob Kajiwara is a Ryukyu / Nahua - Hawaiian singer-songwriter, visual artist, baseball player, and human rights activist. For more information, please visit his home page at www.RobKajiwara.com

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