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Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Devil and Okinawa


The Devil and Okinawa

Most people living here on Okinawa, regardless if they are from here or not, are familiar with Okinawa's ties with the dark underworld. Ghost stories are common throughout the island. It is in the culture. But me personally, there was one wrong assumption I had made...


One day I was having a dinner at a friends house. It was with him and his family. As we were about to sit and eat, one of his teenage sons had just gotten home in time to join us. As he made his way to the table, he said he had just watched a horror movie at his friend's house. Curious to know what it was...he calmly told me it was The Exorcist.

Now...., like most Americans familiar with the hair-raising movie, when you hear the movie Exorcist, you get a funny sensation of something crawling on your back... and instantly,... vivid memories of regurgitated pea-soup, a rotating head, and sounds of that horrid demonic voice immediately enter the mind.

Slightly shocked, I was like, “Wow, weren't you guys scared?

He nonchalantly shrugged his shoulders, and said, “No”.
(Why of course! How foolish of me to expect anything else?)

I was even more shocked by his next response. In one breath, he said Okinawans don't have a concept of the Devil.

I was even more shocked!!! How does a 14 year old kid come up with such a brainiac answer like that?

...and I was humbled. That was my mistake...I had made the assumption that Okinawans understood the idea of One Devil, the Master of the Underworld... as in Lucifer, Satan, the Prince of Darkness, the One Being in direct opposition to the Maker and all his heavenly angels.

Now, he could have been the exception to the rule. I think most kids would be scared of The Exorcist regardless if they understood the concept of the Devil or not. ..but he did touch upon something that made me rethink about some of the assumptions I had made about the Okinwan people.

Most Okinawans don't have this view of One Devil (in the Christian sense) in charge of the Dark Underworld.

Ironically,... you mention ghost or evil spirits..and you get a far more worse reaction than you could ever get with the movie, Exorcist..

Just mention the name, Sadako, to one of your Japanese friends....and see what you get.

Factoid. In 2013, The Exorcist, will be celebrating its 40th Anniversary.