In celebration of Sanshin Day, March 4, I’m featuring a Ryūkyū Koten Ongaku (Ryūkyū classical music) song called “Kajadifū Bushi (かぎやで風節).” It has a bit of history for myself as the first song I learned on uta-sanshin from Katsumi Shinsato-sensei some fifteen years ago and I’ve been playing it ever since. Here’s a little background information on the song from Naganori Komine’s Okinawan Poetry: A Translation of Okinawan Poems from the KUN-KUN-SI (The Textbook of Okinawan song).
There are several different interpretations of the background of this song.
(1) There was a mute prince in the Ryūkyū kingdom. A high ranking clansmen named Ūaragusiku was grieved by this. One day, the prince found out that he was being considered to be the King’s successor. The prince demonstrated that he had just been pretending to be dumb in order to see what was going on among his followers. Watching the scene, the clansmen Ūaragusiku express his joy in this verse.
(2) A blacksmith, or KANJAYA named Okuma, helped Prince Shoen when there was a crisis. After that, when Shoen inherited the kingdom, Okuma became a clansmen. The blacksmith expressed his joy in this verse.
KIYU NU FUKURASHA YA
Today’s joyous occasion,
NAWUNI JANA TATIRU
To what can we compare it?
TSIBUDI WURU HANANU
It’s like a bud waiting to bloom,
TSIYU CHATA GUTU
Touched by the morning dew.