Portraying the Emotions of People in Ryukyu: Okinawan Plays
Okinawan plays first appeared during the mid-Meiji era (circa 1882). The plays portrayed has two types: ‘opera’ style which depicts people’s lives and tragedies with songs, and ‘dramas with Okinawan indigenous dialogue’ which are period dramas using dialogues close to everyday conversation. They are both popular even today.
[A Tale of Watanji District]
On the way back to Kume Island after completing his service at the royal court in Shuri, a young man called Kamata meets a young lady Chiru at a boat inn and falls in love with her.
Kamata promises to marry Chiru and goes home to Kume Island; what will happen to the young couple?
Musical performances in an Okinawan play are composed of songs, actors’ script, dances, and other movements. Full-scale musicals in Okinawan plays appeared around 1868 – 1912. Many musical pieces portray the daily lives, customs, and sentiments of common people, and the performances are often offered even today.