Nature, Ritual, and Society in Japan's Ryukyu Islands
By Arne Røkkum
Routledge – 2006 – 266 pages
Despite their small area, the southern islands of Japan can be seen as stepping stones towards a more nuanced view of cultural osmosis between Japan and the outside world. This book presents an ethnographic portrayal of the people of the Southern Ryukyu Islands and their world. In particular it explores the mind of the islanders, their relationship with the natural world, their social relationships, and the rituals which represent and give expression to these relationships.
Based on extensive original research, including participant observation, the book allows the authentic voices of the Ryukyu Island worlds to speak for themselves as well as setting the work in the wider context of anthropology, Japanese Studies and Pacific Island studies.
'Arne Røkkum has produced a complex, nuanced, and carefully argued ethnography on nature, ritual, society, and symbolism in the Ryukyu Islands, specifically, in this case, Yonaguni Island…There are some wonderful vignettes in this ethnography and some well-constructed analytical frames of reference…it is informative, well researched, and exposes a level of detailed observation and analysis rarely found in the English-language literature on the Ryukyus.' - Matthew Allen, Journal of Japanese Studies, Volume 33
Introduction 1. Commuted Landscapes and Species 2. Person and Island 3. Cyclical Lapses 4. Fateful Exchanges. Conclusion