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In the world of immense beauty Kaminchu and Uminchu live, “humans of the gods” and “humans of the sea”. Umi means sea and it is a male role to bring food and other useful things from the depths of the ocean, or from the impenetrable forest. When men do so, they are obliged to say "bamitoriyo" and take not more than they need, leaving some for the gods, the “kami”. The gods do not like to be disturbed, so they favor women over men. Women are more spiritual beings and stay closer to the gods, connecting humans with higher spirits.
Their home is the Island, that belongs to the Yaeyama islands chain in the Pacific Ocean, between Japan and Taiwan. It was incorporated into Japan only around 150 years ago. Before, it was part of the independent Ryukyu kingdom. Detached from other lands by vast waters, unique culture and religion were developed. People who live here keep a fragile beauty of their inner world, beliefs and life intervened with nature. A forgotten way to live that is vanishing together with coral reefs in the surrounding ocean.
“These years there are a lot of tourists, but also new people are moving to the island. Those people have a different way of thinking and sometimes doesn’t care so much about the old culture.
There is a very famous religious festival called Honensai in this area. During the Honensai we cannot go to the rivers. We are not allowed to go. But some newcomers only care about themselves. Because some people are canoeing guide, working in the rivers, so those people want to know which day is the festival because they cannot work that day. They are not respecting the village people’s beliefs. They only think of their way of living. So if the river is closed on that day, they think that is very troublesome, because they cannot work. My viewpoint is that those guides are making money from the river. There is a river that’s why they can make money. So they need to respect rivers. I don't know why those guides say that they cannot respect the culture of the local people. Those people coming from outside are using the rivers, but they cannot live with rivers.
People from outside are only taking. If they move out of the island, they will forget about the river. Since I'm living here for long years, my life is always connected to rivers. Respect, be grateful is my way of life. I cannot help, but the river is gradually changing.“