Karate 1.0: Parameter of an Ancient Martial Art

The history of Karate is shrouded in mystery, and yet millions of enthusiasts ensure this ancient art thrives powerfully in the twenty-first century. As one of the most comprehensive, and demystifying studies on the enigmatic parameters of ancient combat traditions, Karate 1.0 intrigues readers with rich detail and missing insights of this martial art. Nearly twenty years of research make Karate 1.0 the go-to book for students and masters addicted to the pride of Okinawa.

KARATE 1.0: Parameter of an Ancient Martial Art. Düsseldorf 2013, by Andreas Quast.

cover (4)

Karate 1.0 front cover

  • Pages: xxvii, 502 pp.
  • Language: English.
  • Hardcover binding in green linen material with gold foil stamping, size 8.25″ x 10.75″ (20.95cm x 27.31cm).
  • Full-color dust jacket in matte finish.
  • Inside: black and white printing on cream archival paper (60# weight). White exterior paper (80# weight).
  • Forewords by Patrick McCarthy, Miguel Da Luz, Cezar Borkowski, Jesse Enkamp, Dr. Julian Braun, Soke Leif Hermansson, and Dr. phil. Heiko Bittmann.
  • All copies ship from the United States.
  • Price: $75.00.

 

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Read the review by the experts: Mike Clark’s blog, and at Martial Arts Library (http://martialartlibrary.blogspot.de/2014/04/karate-10.html), and check out the huge preview first: Karate 1.0: Preview

Description:
Okinawa was formerly known as the Ryūkyū Kingdom. This island kingdom was situated between China and Japan, the two giants in the ancient Asian world order. For centuries the kingdom was involved in maritime trade, tribute, diplomacy and war and became variously known as the peaceful kingdom, the islands of longevity, and the land of propriety. Over the course of five centuries, within its encapsulated maritime sphere, unique forms of martial traditions emerged. They are known today as Karate and Kobudō, the pride of the Okinawans, and world martial arts enjoyed by millions of people around the globe.

Did you know: A copy of Karate 1.0 has been ordered by the library of the world’s largest sports university, the German Sport University Cologne.

Read the review by the experts: Mario McKenna’s blog, and check out the huge preview first: Karate 1.0: Preview

However, details on the history of these martial traditions largely remained shrouded in mystery to this day. After a meticulous long-term investigation, now KARATE 1.0 bears witness to the myriad headwaters of modern day Karate and Kobudō. It provides hitherto missing insights into a perpetual process of martial updates that took place over centuries within the official and semiofficial framework of the kingdom.

Did you know: Karate 1.0 was covered in the Okinawa Karate News 沖縄空手通信, No. 91, 2014/01 issue.

As one of the most comprehensive and long-lasting studies on the subject, KARATE 1.0 finally reveals the enigmatic parameters of these ancient combat traditions as a result of the author’s exclusive and trailblazing research, which started two decades ago with a white belt at a friend’s dōjō.

This masterpiece represents the results of nearly twenty years the author has invested in demystifying the convoluted genealogy of Karate. By conducting interviews around the globe and sifting through mountains of primary and secondary research, he puts the fighting arts and related-persons into a new historical perspective.

Did you know: Karate 1.0 sold worldwide to Okinawa, the US, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Tasmania, Ireland, the UK, Germany, Spain, Belgium, Austria, France, the Netherlands, Italy, Sweden, Norway, Denmark, Switzerland, and Spain.

The central theme of this work is the search for causal triggers of a holistic system of unarmed and armed martial traditions. By analysing the origin and transformation of the military and security organization of the Ryūkyū Kingdom, the author identified the superordinate security related royal government organizations and functions responsible. In addition he detected hundreds of martial artists active during Okinawa’s old Kingdom era who otherwise would have remained unnoticed in Karate research and oral tradition.

In this way describing the enigmatic parameters of the Ryūkyū Kingdom’s ancient fighting arts, or KARATE 1.0, a common historical basis of the countless fragmentary traditions of modern Karate and Kobudō was discovered.

“KARATE 1.0: Parameter of an Ancient Martial Art” should be embraced by the international Budō community and enjoy the recognition and success it so richly deserves.

Read the review by the experts: IkigaiWay blog, and check out the huge preview first: Karate 1.0: Preview

 

Cover Art:

The sword hilt on the front cover is a scetch of the Chōganemaru sword. It once belonged to the mysterious King of Nakijin, Han’anchi. He was defeated by Shō Hashi, who took the sword. Afterwards it had been handed down within the royal Shō family of Ryūkyu for six centuries. On the cover it is meant as a symbol of royal authority rather than a weapon.

Did you know: Karate 1.0 for the first time includes ALL known written historical sources on Karate and Kobudo related martial arts of the kingdom.

It is also emblematic for the foreign influences; Han’anchi was probably not “Okinawan”. And it stands for the “Ryukyu Nutshell” in which the martial arts emerged, developed, and countinuously were updated. The “Ryukyu Nutshell” is the idea that the royal government of Ryūkyu basically remained in a constant form since the era of Shō Shin, although adjustments were taken over the centuries.

Karate 1.0 back cover

Karate 1.0 back cover

On the back cover is an artistic drawing of the character , i.e. the moral principle of justice, duty, and truth as the very basis of a martial “path”. Added to it is the caption “Go! Go! Go! Go!”. This is an allusion to the fact that the path should be proactively walked. BTW, is not the aim, but kokoro is. 

Finally, on the cover flips are found the characters Bun and Bu, that is scholarship and the art of war, which are considered to have existed in unitas. The reason for this is that in feudal times civil and military questions were deeply associated. This can be seen in the Sappōshi missions from China to Ryūkyū. It can also be seen in the era of Satsuma control. And it was also manifest in the government organization of the Ryūkyū Kingdom.

Expert ratings:

“KARATE 1.0 will compel you to rethink what is currently known about the historical and cultural background for the art that brings us all together … KARATE 1.0 is destined to become a future classic and a MUST for the bookshelves of every serious Karate-ka. I am SO EXCITED about this project and hope you will be, too.” - Patrick McCarthy, Hanshi 9th Dan, Australia

“This masterpiece represent the results of the author’s nearly twenty years of studies on the history of karate and is a fantastic source of information with its encyclopedic-like details about not only karate, but Ryukyuan history and culture.” - Miguel Da Luz, Okinawa Traditional Karate Liaison Bureau

“Andreas Quast has penned what I humbly believe will become the definitive book on Ryukyuan history and its parallel effect on the fighting traditions of the Nantou Islands.” - Cezar Borkowski, Hanshi 9th Dan, Canada

“When it comes to exploring the ancient martial arts of the Ryukyus, few people have the zealousness and grit of Andreas Quast.” - Jesse Enkamp, Karatepreneur, Sweden

“Andreas Quast’s contribution on the history of martial arts on the Ryukyu Islands is even more delightful.” - Dr. Julian Braun, Germany

“I have always been impressed with Mr Quast’s vast knowledge, acquired in many years of research, about the history of Karate and Kobudo.” - Soke Leif Hermansson, 10th Dan Hanshi, Sweden

“The book not only sheds more light on the history of the art, but also serves as a must-read for any martial arts enthusiast who wishes to acquire a deeper understanding of the origins, and the development, of Karatedo.” - Dr. phil. Heiko Bittmann, Kanazawa, Japan

“Life can only be understood backwards; but it must be lived forwards.” ― Søren Kierkegaard

 

Karate 1.0 cover flip 1

Karate 1.0 cover flip 2

 

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The Signaling Arrow of Practice

The following is an edited collection of memories and stories of others I present here in a rather informal way. 

At times Miyagi Chōjun visited the main island in an effort to spread Karate. His intention was to elevate Okinawa Karate to the level of Japanese Jūdō and Kendō, which in fact were only completed around that time. On occasion of an invitation by the Jūdō department of the Imperial University of Kyōto, Chōjun for the first time crossed to the main island in December 1927. On the main island this event is referred to as shidō no kaburaya, that is, literally “the signaling arrow of practice,” referring to the original meaning of a signaling arrow marking the beginning of a military campaign.

Each year in May, demonstrations were held at the festival of martial virtues (butokusai) in Kyōto. The training for this event took place at the Ritsumeikan University. The demonstrations took place from May 4th to 8th, for 5 days, under the auspices of the Society of Martial Virtues of Great-Japan (Dai Nippon Butokukai). Venue was the “hall of martial virtues (butokuden)” in Kyōto’s Heian Shrine, featuring fencing (kenjutsu), jūdō, bōjutsu, sōjutsu etc.

According to the “Journal of the martial virtues” (Butokushi), tōdījutsu (karate-jutsu) was presented by Konishi Yasuhiro at the 33rd Butokusai in 1929. At the 34th Butokusai in 1930 “karate-jutsu” was demonstrated by Ueshima Sannosuke from Ōsaka and “karate (tōdī) kenpō” by Konishi Yasuhiro from Tōkyō. At the 35th Butokusai in 1931 it was “karate“ by Konishi Yasuhiro again.

When the Society of Martial Virtues of Great-Japan held its martial arts festivals, Chōjun would occasionally participate, giving demonstrations as an opportunity for the dissemination of karate on the main island. And it seems to have been Chōjun‘s hope to connect Karate to Japanese pre-war Budō through spreading it throughout the country. On Okinawa, too, conveyors supported Chōjun’s activities in this regard: Spreading the Okinawan folk culture of karate on the mainland was the desire and hope of many Okinawans.

In the year 1933, karate (tōdī) was recognized as a genus of Budō by the Butokukai. In the document filed at that time the exact name is recorded as “Gōjū-ryū Karate (Tōdī)“.

At subsequent Butokusai, Chōjun gave demonstrations. At that time there was his student Yogi Jitsu’ei, who had joined Ritsumeikan University in 1934. Born in 1912 in the administrative district of Naha, Jitsu’ei had become a student of Miyagi Chōjun already in 1928 while still on Okinawa.

yogi jitsuei

1935 Chōjun journeyed to Kyōto for the Butokusai demonstration, which was under auspices of the Society of Martial Virtues of Great-Japan (Dai Nippon Butokukai). At that occasion, Chōjun performed Sanchin, Sēsan, and Yakusoku Kumite, and in the latter Jitsu’ei acted as his partner. Although Yakusoku Kumite is a “prearranged duel”, Jitsu’ei recalled his sense of fear at that time, as Chōjun would occasionally attack Ichigeki Hissatsu, i.e. “with the firm intention to kill with one blow”.

Yogi Jitsu’ei reported,

“In 1934 I became a student at the Ritsumeikan University. In the following year I acted as a partner Miyagi Chōjun Sensei during the Butokusai. At that time there was the highly respected Jūdōka of the Butokukai named Isogai Hajime (1871-1947). I was studying together with his son at the Faculty of Laws at the time. He said to me, ‘Mr. Yogi, my father has praised your teacher very much. He must be really a first-class Budōka and personality’.”

Jitsu’ei further

“introduced Chōjun Sensei to the former rector of Ritsumeikan University, the master-teacher Nakagawa Kojūrō. On this occasion, Rector Nakagawa variously chatted about Karate (Tōdī) with Chōjun Sensei. Rector Nakagawa said to him, ‘as a memento of Ritsumeikan, I would like to present you this writing made by veteran Meiji statesman Saionji Kinmochi (1849–1940)’, which he later sent to Okinawa.”

Said Saionji was a Duke, Prime Minister, President of the Privy Council, Envoy, Minister of Culture, and Imperial Advisor.

On December 21, 1935, Jitsu’ei startet the “Tōdī Kenkyūkai” of the Ritsumeikan University, together with Yamaguchi Jitsumi (Gōgen), Nishikawa Ikutarō, Noda Ritsuo, and Wada Shōichi.

On January 20, 1936, the “program and rules of the Karate-dō Department of the Ritsumeikan University” was submitted to the University. Therein is reported of “the glorious teacher Miyagi Chōjun” and the “deputy masters Yogi Jitsu’ei and Yamaguchi Jitsumi (i.e. Gōgen)”.

In the context of cumulative results of negotiations, on 30 April 1937, the renaming of “Tōdī Kenkyūkai” to “Karate (Tōdī)-dō Department” was approved. Subsequently it was further adjusted to “Karate Kenpō department” and “Karate-dō Department“. Nowadays it is called “Karate-Department of Ritsumeikan University”.

In 1937 Chōjun became the first person in the sphere Karate who was awarded the title of Kyōshi. The same year Jitsu’ei graduated from Ritsumeikan University. Afterwards he worked for the police of the city prefecture of Osaka.

In 1939, Ritsumeikan karate club members Ujita Shōzō (1917-1989), Nakamura Taisuke, Taniguchi Jō, Ioku Tetsuya and others practiced for a period of over two months under Miyagi Chōjun in his garden in Naha. At that time, Ujita also received training from Shinzato Jin’an († 1945), Chōjun’s top student and designated successor at the time. Immediately following this visit, Kagawa Haruyoshi from Kyōto also visited Okinawa and trained under Chōjun.

Also in 1939, Kisaki Tomoharu, Uchiage Kenzō, and Kitano joined the Ritsumeikan University Karate club.

yogi2

1942, following an invitation Ritsumeikan’s Kisaki Tomoharu, Uchiage Kenzō, Kitano, Kimura and others trained with Miyagi Chōjun. Mentioned Kisaki Tomoharu, in an 1986 article recalled whom he considered his most important teachers:

“Besides my late Sensei (Miyagi Chōjun) I have been instructed by many others, like Yogi Jitsu’ei, Sō Neichū, Ujita Shōzō, and my good friend and competitor, Uchiage Kenzō, also enlightened me in many ways.”

The following had also been reported in writing:

In Kyōto it often rains. Even when sensei (Chōjun) went to buy gifts and travel souvenirs, the students kept an umbrella ready outside the store. Even when going to the toilet, as I said, the students stood ready at the entrance with an umbrella in their hands. Wherever they went, the students took the umbrella with them, and made ​​sure that Sensei would not get wet. Chōjun Sensei commented on this, ‘Such hospitable people you cannot find amongst all people from Okinawa’.”

In 1950, Jitsu’ei also acted as joint founder of the Zen Nihon Karate-dō Gōjūkai, together with Yamaguchi Gōgen. Later he opened a Dōjō called Shinkōkan (hall of the promotion [of karate]).

yogi3

Following his retirement from work, Jitsu’ei returned to Okinawa, where he continued to spread karate. He died at the age of 85 years.

It can thus be said that Yogi Jitsu’ei was at the center of the propagation of Gōjū-ryū karate on the main island. Jitsu’ei was a Budōka (Gōjū-ryū Karate) and a police officer.

 

Sources (click to enlarge):

yogi4

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A lecture in Japan, 1999

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applied science in karate?

Is there a theory that should be looked into as an applied science in karate? I mean, if you had a lot of time at hand? 

If you’d ask me, it would definitely not be “Ki”. 

Rather, it would be the physical laws of mechanics. Specifically kinematics and dynamics, static and kinetic. This is nothing but what is called biomechanics. It’s not about being young or old, belly, beard, or not. It’s not living here or there. 

It’s plain math

Math is what makes up the bulk of biomechanics. Always. Anywhere. 

All else is evasive, opinion, personal “experience windows”, heuristics, beliefs, wishes, preferences, and so on. Tradition. 

If it’s not about the art, though, sheer power and athletics will do the safe side most of the time. Add three techniques each of Karate, boxing, wrestling, jūdō, and some others. 

Of course, in all these MA the “player” itself constitutes the “movendum”, but there’s a huge difference when it comes to Kata: other than elsewhere and although they too might have “shadow boxing” routines, Karate Kata in most of the styles are “unrestrained by an opponent” as regards their biomechanics. 

They are a simulation of being “restrained by at opponent“. 

Other, supportive methods might also be used to compensate for this, like makiwara, weight training, kote-kitae, etc. 

But then, why would anyone need to preserve Kata? Why not just extract the principles and techniques? Why are there infinte parameter settings for Kata within the range in between martial form and art form

I’am not sure. Our relationship is complicated. 

Bunkai is often not done exactly as Kata. Or it is “dummy-opponent restrained”. Or it is more or less agreed upon. Or simply traditional. Or invented tradition. Or martial engineering – ad hoc, reasoned, or inspired from anywhere else. Or a Kata might also be adapted to ideas of their application, which – however – is often said to be a no-go, yet this rule is adhered to as often as it is broken. And at any time during the 20th century new Kata have been developed. Some were continued, some discarded. 

As there is any thinkable approach to the “blank paper of Kata” put into action out there, there is not one definition for what is Kata. In Okinawa, there even was a serious discussion as to which of the two Kanji – with their micro-indications – is the correct one to be used. 

Guess what: the question was never solved! 

Each style, each Dojo has its own method of tsuki and other techniqes, often called “body mechanics”. This of course is nothing but (Western) biomechanics, yet without its original scientific foundation, as tradition inherently contradicts to this. Furthermore, all things Japanese have to be historically Japanese, armies of Japanese academics work day and night on this. How Okinawan is that?

All of the various approaches seem to be correct within the scope of their set of assumptions (sometimes referred to as theory). Just do crunches, push-ups, and squats until at explanation will be available. You’ll be an all healthy, good-looking stud. Be a strong man who does some karate. Strong men always have many friends, so it’s good. If you have money, or power, even better. 

The biomechanics of Kata hardly are explicable in a “restrained by an opponent” fashion that is at the same time practicable. Ok, there are exceptions. Just as many as there are those who would achieve the same results by playing table tennis for 10 years. 

A myriad of stylistic expressions from a non-functional sphere are also used.

Is it this complexity that leads people to look into “ki” power? Or “tanden”? Anything Oki-xotic?

Or is it really the fear and loathing of having to do the math? 

I want to tell my dear Lady Kata, “You’re fuzzyness is killing me.” 

You know ambiguity – as termed from a Western perspective – is THE # 1 hobby of ALL Japanese. The Japanese, on the other hand, call this “aimai”, which is considered a form of aesthetics. Being aimai is totally the flavor of the month. Which it has been for about the last 1000 years. 

So, returning to Kata, the least thing anyone may do of what is regarded “scientific” would be a functional motion analysis, using the methods developed – for example – in sports bomechanics. 

This is what successful athletes do. 

And it is the same as traditionalists do – they just call it differently. 

Oversimplifying things for the sake of clarity, the first seem to adapt things to themselves, fast, with high intensity. 

The latter adapt themselves to things, slowly, over a long period of time.

The first have no idea of tradition. The latter have no idea of sports. 

At the same time, both Western sports and Japanese tradition aims at the same thing: balanced persons as valuable members of society. But this sublime ambition is not yet achieved, as both forms keep producing the good, the bad, and the ugly alike. Zero-sum game. 

There is no-one who inherited the body, the brain, or the collective knowledge of a Sensei, miracuously having hopped over to them. It is also not possible to bring a “collective indiginous knowledge” to become tapped into “swarm knowledge” (I know many people will disagree). 

That’s what makes Kata so hard to understand. Together with, I might add, a double difference. I.e., the difference between old and modern things Japanese / Okinawan on one hand, and the difference between things imported, adapted, and incorporated on the other. 

This sweet and short matrix has not yet been solved. It’s easier to encourage storytelling.

All thanks to the aesthetics of ambiguity, or aimai from a Japanese perspective. 

So what is Kata? 

It is to mercilessly grind artificial degrees of freedom into your bones, joints, and tendons! 

NOT!

Maybe – only for today and entirely without obligation - I may at least formulate that Kata basically seems to be a “simulative method of martial theory in motion unrestrained by an opponent“.

That’s not the worst try.

aimai

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Goju-ryu’s Higa Seiko demonstrating a technique from the end of “Kakufaa”

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June 10, 2009, with late Soke Nagamine Takayoshi

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Small extra for “Karate 1.0″

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Hidari-gomon: the coat-of-arms of the Royal Sho family of the Ryukyu Kingdom

There seems to be only one theory for which there are two independent evidences in existence: i.e. that of Shō Toku, the last king of the 1st Shō Dynasty. As described in the Kyūyō (an official history), in 1465 Shō Toku commanding “a navy consisting of 50 ships with more than 2,000 troops set sails in Naha. At the time they reached the open sea, the king had a vision of a large hanging bell rocking in the wavefront. Upon this divine sign, on board of the ship gifts were offered to the tutelary deity of war, Hachiman Daibosatsu.” After they conquered Kikai Island, Shō Toku “ordered to establish a temple [...], to place a bell in it and to name it Hachiman-gū, i.e. the Shrine of the God of War.”
From this and other stories, I surmise, Kerr and Turnbull noted that King Shō Toku is portrayed as having “fancied himself one of these fearless sea barons and proposed to emulate them in making himself a power on the high seas,” and adopted as his banner the symbol of Hachiman, the Japanese tutelary deity of war, who was considered the patron of sea adventurers and pirates.”

During the Muromachi era, the Hachiman banner was used by Japanese naval vessels as well as Kango (license) trading vessels. During the early period of the Wakō pirates it was also used by the “Japanese pirates”.

Aside from the above mentioned history called “Kyūyō”, there’s is also an artifact pointing to King Shō Toku: Shō Toku, the last king of the 1st Shō Dynasty, was overthrown by King Shō En, 1st king of the 2nd Shō Dynasty. Shō Toku‘s surviving retainers were buried in the “Tomb of the Hundred Anji”, located behind a hill in the village of Unten in Nakijin, northern Okinawa. Upon a part of a wooden coffin discovered there, the oldest instance of the “mitsu domoe mon” (三つ巴紋, “Three commas crest”) was found, worked out in golden color. It’s called “hidari-gomon” (左御紋) in the case of Ryūkyū, meaning “left-turning honorable crest”. And this is the same (basically) as the Hachiman crest.

Maybe the story is not popular as it reminds people of the military state of affairs of Ryukyu at the time, something that became very unpopular in the second half of the 20th century. Thee is also proof that the 1st Sho dynasty was overthrown by the 2nd Sho dynasty, and there was no family relation whatsoever. It was a coup dètat.

So, here I photoshopped the said wooden coffin for you, so you can actually see it. It is a coffin of a retainer of Sho Toku, and the first instance showing the “clockwise revolving commas” crest:

Hidari-gomon, the coat-of-arms of the Royal Sho family of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

Hidari-gomon, the coat-of-arms of the Royal Sho family of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

Left bottom. the coffin. Right side: the peace of wood bearing the once golden crest. Left upper side: enlargement of the crest. The pictures are from a 1957 work by one of THE big famous Okinawan historians.

BTW, one theory – without any proof for it – is that the crest was made from the name Sho Hashi (尚巴志), with the Kanji 巴 found in his name is the same as in -domoe (comma).As he unified the THREE kingdoms, there were three of these commas.

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On the lavish use of terminology as regards cultural properties of Japan

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Take care of your scabbard

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Chibana Chosho

As noted previously, journalist Yokoyama Kendō wrote in 1914:

“And it is also said that the district mayor of Shuri, the honorable old man Chibana Chosho, had been a strong exponent in this field (of Karate).” Cf. Yokoyama 1914.

Yokoyama Kendō's photo, 1914. Chibana had been inserted in the right upper caption.

Yokoyama Kendō’s photo, 1914. Chibana had been inserted in the right upper caption.

 

Detail

Detail

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

From the same year, we have this photo of Chibana:

Kyan Chōfu and Chibana Chōshō (from Ryūkyū Kenbun-roku, 1914)

Kyan Chōfu and Chibana Chōshō (from Ryūkyū Kenbun-roku, 1914)

 

 

 

 

 

 

And I think I found another one. It’s this picture taken in 1921, behind the youth dorm of the Shuri Shihan-gakko (normal school, or teachers colleage):

Unbenannt2

 

Chibana was mayor of Shuri until April of 1921. Looking at the details of the photo’s history, the photo itself, and comparing it to the other photos, I think this must be Chibana Chosho:

 

Chibana Chosho, 1921 behind the dorm of the Shuri Shihan-gakko.

Chibana Chosho, 1921 behind the dorm of the Shuri Shihan-gakko.

 

 

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