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Interview with Shinsho Shimabuku
April 15, 1999 Okinawa Part 1
by AJ Advincula

 

Interview with Shinsho Shimabuku
April 15, 1999 Okinawa Part 1
 

At the last Tomo no kai trip (April 9-29, 1999) to Okinawa there were three interviews held with Shinsho Shimabuku (1941), Tatsuo's second born son. During this interviews Carol Womack made video recordings. This article has direct quotes from the interview on video tape with explanations from Arcenio J. Advincula. This is the first interview with Ciso held on April 15, 1999. April 19 and April 26 interviews will follow.

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LOCATION:  At Shinsho Shimabuku’s home in Kinaka, Gushikawa

Present at the interview:  Arcenio Advincula, Jeff Perkins, Carol Womack, Cherry Douglas and Marien Jumelet.

Shinsho Tatsuo Shimabuku’s second born son. He is called Ciso for short. Ciso starts off by bringing a covered bo and states he has a presento (gift) for Advincula. Ciso removes the cover from the bo and says to Advincula:

Ciso: "My father said to give this bo cover to (Steve) Armstrong, (Arcenio) Advincula or (Don) Nagle. It is good for your collection. It is Okinawan custom, Shihan-dai (senior instructor), when the sensei passes away, he passes (the gift, bo cover) on to the number one student. Tatsuo had the bo cover under his pillow (on his death bed) and said to pass it on to the number one student who teaches. Sensei (Tatsuo Sensei) normally watches (monitors the dojo classes) and the senior student teaches (the dojo classes). So it is the Okinawan custom to give ( the bo cover) to the shihan.."

Ciso then presents the bo cover to Advincula.

Shihan in Japanese means teacher, master teacher, an instructor. Dai means large or big. Shihan-dai means big teacher or senior instructor

Note AJA: Ciso was given the ancient Chinese fortune telling books of Ganeku. Ganeku was Tatsuo’s uncle on his mothers side who first taught Tatsuo to be a sanjinsoo or sumuchi. A sumuchi in the Okinawan dialect Uchinaguchi, or hogen ( Japanese dialect) , is a practitioner who engages in fortunetelling, divining, and geomancy, deriving their knowledge from books rather than from the supernatural. The I Ching and kuyumi or lunar almanac besides other books on occult lore used by a sumuchi. These ancient books were all written in kanji or Chinese characters. Ganeku also taught Tatsuo Shorinji karate according to Ciso. Tatsuo also taught Shinsho to be a sumuchi. Ciso brings out these books to show us

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Ciso: "One off these books only two people on Okinawa have. These books are difficult to read. One of these books say kami (god). My father was smart, a common person would not understand. All the books are in kanji. Ganeku was a school principle and learned shorinji (Shoalin temple karate). Ganeku went to China and learned shorinji. He learned shorinji karate from Kosi and Mosi." NOTE (AJA): Kosi and Mosi are Okinawan hogen pronunciation.

Ciso continues talking about Tatsuo learning fortune telling: "Most who try to learn do not understand and only one out of a hundred who start, will. Several paid to learn but only my father learned."

Ciso continues about Ganeku: " Kosi and Mosi taught karate to Ganeku-san. Tatsuo used [Ciso shows a can of sticks] these sticks in fortune telling. [Ciso demonstrates using the sticks in the can]. These books are not sold in stores. Only two on Okinawa. The compass is used for tombs or in planing a house." [ The directions of entrances of tombs and houses plays a very important part in a sumuchi’s life. A sumuchi is consulted before constructing a tomb or a house by the interested party] Ciso then opens one of the books and shows a megami (Kannon the goddess of mercy riding a lion like creature) and says "Megami." In several of the books you could see notes that Tatsuo wrote.

Jeff: " Was your father in the Philippines?"

Ciso: "Yes, he stayed one year in the Philippines. He taught karate to a comedy (theater) group while there."

Jeff: "Do you know Ganeku’s first name?"

Ciso: " I called him Ganeku Sensei. In the daytime Ganeku was a school teacher. Night time he was a sumuchi. Ganeku taught high school in Isshikawa (Village) but lived in Agena."

Ciso shows his fathers notebook he used to keep his fortune telling customers names in. The note book shows the family history along with other pertinent information about them. It seems to be a log book. Advincula asks permission to copy Tatsuo’s note book and Ciso says yes.

Jeff: "Did your father have Bubishi? Kenpo gokui?"

Ciso answers that he has nothing left. He states that Kichiro came and took all the items of his fathers including a pair of his father’s pants.

Ciso was recovering from a stroke and was told by his doctors not to be too active. While he was looking cheerful and alert, Advincula decided to end the visit and the interview and told Ciso he would come back later to continue the interview.

Text: Arcenio J. Advincula

 

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