Interview with Shinsho Shimabuku
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
April 15, 1999 Okinawa Part 1
LOCATION: At Shinsho
Shimabuku’s home in Kinaka, Gushikawa
Present at the interview:
Arcenio Advincula, Jeff Perkins, Carol Womack, Cherry
Douglas and Marien Jumelet.
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.."
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
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
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
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."
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."
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
Jeff: "Did your father have Bubishi?
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.
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.
Arcenio J. Advincula