Kinkomokuzetsu: Enlisting the power of water

January 1, 2014 Ryukyu Shimpo

If I am asked, “What’s your favorite drink?” without hesitation I will answer “awamori.” A cold beer after a bath is also hard to resist, but a glass of cold water the morning after drinking a little too much tastes every bit as good.
In the dictionary we find the expression “a glass of water to relieve your thirst after sobering up tastes like honeydew.” Water also helps us recover from a hangover and makes us reflect on the previous night’s behavior. Would I be laughed at if I were to state that it is the drinker’s privilege to select the very best taste to enjoy?

Water used to appear in traditional New Year ceremonies in Okinawa. On the morning of New Year’s Day people would draw water known as “Wakamiji” or “Wakaubi,” and offer it to the God of Fire or a Buddhist altar. It is believed that this water possesses spiritual powers of rejuvenation. They would put some of the water on their foreheads in a ceremony known as “Ubinadi” as they prayed for the health of their family members.

The New Year is now upon us as aftershocks continue following a significant jolt to the system. Five days have passed since Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima approved the Henoko landfill. Voices of anger, surprise, disappointment and resignation to the fact have swept through the prefecture. We can hear them all, even those not clearly spoken.

Yet again a politician has had to make a “tough decision.” I can imagine the scene of them plotting to put pressure on the Okinawan people to divide us, cracking open a bottle as they look contemptuously upon the chaotic scenes in Okinawa. The people of Okinawa have been betrayed. The pain that has spread through the body from what we have just had to swallow is still with us. But a New Year has come. It is time for us to enlist the power of water.

We should neither despair nor give in. It is not the time to give up. Uchinanchu, let us walk together, standing straight and true, proud for all to see. Let us pledge to do so as we drink a glass of water on the morning of New Year’s Day.

(English translation by T&CT)

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