Awaji is only lightly linked to the modern world.

Shishi, the lion dog from China guarding the Shinto shrine. Sumoto. 05nov27.

Awaji Links




Godzilla battles again. 05nov27

Gojira forever battles the concrete foes of Japan under the Shinto torii gates. Part of a larger vignette camped in front of a lonely concrete store up in the mountains outside of Sumoto.

Awaji links online

Awaji does not have a large presence online. Out in real life, though, Awaji is justly famed for sweet onions, beef, the Awaji puppet theater, and country life. It is a safe place for traditions to linger and artisans to live apart from the hussle and bustle of mainland Japan. In other words, there is no Starbucks, internet café, or glorious Takashimiya department store.

Awaji in Japanese Literature.

This Wine of Peace, This Wine of Laughter 291 A.D. E-hime, the beloved concubine of Emperor Ojin, was granted leave to return to visit her parents in the land of Kibi. The Emperor made this song upon her departure, while standing on a hight tower and watching her boat depart from Naniwa (modern Osaka).

The island of Awaji
Lies next to its mate;
The island of Azuki
Lies next to its mate.
Ah, what good islands!
But who
Has caused our separation?
When I was meeting fondly
With my beloved, the maiden of Kibi!

Kinkafu contains three accounts of this sonís origins, none of which fit well.

The little bamboo of Mihara
Of Waji,
the island-country
I pulled up by the roots,
Pulled up and brought,
And planted
by the spring
Of Asatsuma.
The little bamboo of Mihara
Of Awaji!

Genji Monogatari (Tale of Genji) by Murasaki Shikibu in the early eleventh century, during the Heian Period, has one reference, in the Akashi chapter. The court prince and ever-shining-star Genji is exhiled from the Miyako courts of Kyoto. He is banished to an island off the Osaka coast, near Sumiyoshi. In our modern day, this is all part of the Kyoto-Osaka megablobalopolis. In our day, Genji would be a rock star of in a family musical dynasty, or a movie icon with extremely high credentials whose lovelife irredeemably tarnishes his reputation. In his day, going beyond the confines of the court in Kyoto was today's equivalent of banishment to Siberia, or Podunck. After a few months and yet another heartfelt affair with the local beauty, he is at last allowed to return. He does, posthaste, abandoning his now knocked-up local love. As a small boat rows him back to civilization and the shores of Sumiyoshi, he espies the large island of Awaji. Several translations give this rendition of his as-always moody thoughts:

On a quiet moonlit night when the sea stretched off into the distance under a coudless sky, he almost felt that he was looking at the familiar waters of his own garden. Overcome with longing, he was like a solitary, nameless wanderer. "Awaji, distant foan,"* he whispered to himself.

"Awaji: in your name is all my sadness,
And clear you stand in the light of the moon tonight."

*The name Awaji suggests both awa, "foam," and aware, an [expression] of vague and undefined saness. Oshicochi Mitsune, Shinkokinshuu 1513:

The moon seemed ah so distant at Awaji.
From these cloudly sovereign heights it seems so near.

Japanalia (1959).

Island in the Inland Sea, off Osaka and Kobe, area 593 sq. km. According to mythology, Awaji was the first island created by Izanagi and Izanami (q.v.). Emperor Junnin was exiled there in 764, and Prince Sawara in 785. A scenic island favored with a good climate, its industries are agriculture, dairy, farming, and fishing. It is famous for Naruro mika (mandarin oranges), and onions.


Traditional puppet show of the Awaji district. Founded in the late 16th c., is older than Bunraku. Like Bunraku, played with accompaniment of jorurui, by three persons manipulating a puppet, however the present Awaji pupets are usually larger than those use din Bunraku. Prospered in the 18th c. among farmers and fishermen.

The book most concerned with Awaji that I know of is Dr. Jane Marie Law's book, "Puppets of Nostalgia: The Life, Death, and Rebirth of the Japanese Awaji Ningyo Tradition, 1997, Princeton UP. It is quite an experience to re-read her book and be on the island itself.

It's News In Japan

Godzilla continues his epic re-enactment memorial walkabout through Japan.

Akira Ifukube. "Composer Akira Ifukube, most famous for his work on the movie, "Godzilla," died of multiple organ failure Wednesday night at a Tokyo hospital, his family said. He was 91.

Ifukube was born in Kushiro, Hokkaido. A graduate of Hokkaido University, Ifukube was a self-taught composer who began scoring movie soundtracks in the 1950s. Noted early works include "Gembaku no Ko" (Children of Hiroshima) in 1952 and "Godzilla" in 1954.

His theme for "Godzilla," which successfully captured the air of menace that surrounded the monster, has considerable influence on overseas movies." Daily Yomiuri, February 19, 2006.

For more about Gozira-san's moving memorial, see the gojira update.