Students were treated to the
cultural experience of a lifetime this
Wednesday as audience members
were astounded by Okinawan
“Marking Bodies of Peace” is a
unique show, highlighting art forms
such as dance, music and drama, as
well as giving the audience a chance
to interact with the performers.
The show focuses on traditional
Okinawa represents a space
known as the “Keystone of the
Pacific” which is located in the
Ryukyu Islands of Japan.
The atmosphere in Okinawa
today is tense, due largely to the
occupation of nearly 50,000 American troops.
“Okinawans utilize cultural performance as a powerful vehicle
to construct a collective identity
that resists war, embraces peace and
strives for sustainability,” said Valerie
Barske, assistant professor of history
The show was a hit from the
beginning, drawing in more people
than the venue could hold. Every
available spot on the floor was taken,
and with good reason.
Haruka Shingaki was the dancer
of the evening, treating the audience
to traditional Okinawan dances about
love and farewells.
After a welcoming message from
event organizers Valerie Barske and
Eiko Ginoza, the show continued
with a reading from “June Sky,” a
children’s book about the tragedy in Okinawa that occurred in 1959. The
story is about a plane that crashed
into an elementary school, ending
several young lives. The reading
was an emotional journey through
the eyes of a child dealing with the
Then came the highlight of the
evening, a one-woman performance
by Sumiko Kitajima. Kitajima
played a grandmother talking to her
granddaughter who was about to
be married. The grandmother told
stories of when she was first married,
and how she received her first Hajichi
Hajichi are tattoos that Okinawan
women receive when they go through
milestones in life, such as getting
married or having their first child.
Through Kitajima’s performance,
we learned about Okinawan culture and the legend of how the first tattoos
were given to women by the gods as
reward for their hard work.
Though the one-woman play was
entirely in Japanese, it was very easy
to understand. “Grandmother” is a
universal language. It was a unique
experience in storytelling.
The audience got to chime in
and help Kitajima sing a traditional
blessing song. Everyone lent their
voice and for a moment, we were all
a family at grandma’s house.
The night finished off with
everyone out of their seats and
dancing. There wasn’t a face without
“Marking Bodies of Peace”
should be considered a great success.
Everyone in the crowd was educated