HISTORY OF AFUSO-RYU
Classical Okinawan music was born in a setting
of small subtropical islands situated at the oceanic crossroads of Asian
trade and culture. Okinawa is the largest of the Ryukyu Islands which stretch
between southern mainland Japan and Taiwan. From the 14th to 19th centuries,
Okinawa was the seat of the Ryukyuan kingdom. The kingdom maintained close
cultural and economic ties with China, Japan, Korea and Southeast Asia.
The culture of Okinawa flourished under influences from these countries,
especially China, and reached a peak during the reign of Ryukyuan King
Sho Shin (1477- 1525). Among the many items adopted from the Chinese during
this period was the sanshin, a three-stringed instrument with a snake-skin
sounding box. The sanshin became the principal instrument of Okinawan music.
In 1609, Okinawa was invaded by Japan, bu:t the Ryukyuan kingdom persisted,
even though Japan controlled its trade. In 1879, Japan abolished the Kingdom
of the Ryukyus and annexed the islands.
The origin of classical Okinawan music has been traced back to the reign of Ryukyuan King Sho Kei ( 1717- 1751). Yakabi Sensei, the originator of classical Okinawan music, was a close attendant to King Sho Kei. By preserving the ancient songs of Okinawa, adding new compositions, and adopting the Chinese method of musical transcription, Yakabi created the genre of classical Okinawan music as it is known today. The music of Yakabi was passed, through his student, Toyohara Sensei. to Sekko Chinen, who was a rnusical genius. Chinen Sensei examined the musical scores of Yakabi, made modifications, added some of his own compositions, and completed the compilation of the kunkushi (written music).
During the reign of the last Ryukyuan King Sho Tai ( 1866- 1879) two schools of classical Okinawan music were established. One of Chinen's students, Ansho Nonlura, became the musical instructor to King Sho Tai and was ordered to simplify the musical scores, thus establishing the Nomura Ryu School of classical Okinawan music. Meanwhile, close adherence to Chinen's music was maintained by one of his senior students, Seigen Afuso. This gave rise to thc Afuso Ryu School of classical Okinawan music. Nomura Ryu and Afuso Ryu exist today as the two principal schools of classical Okinawan music.Although Afuso Ryu is named for Selgen Afisso, the school endeavors to adhere closely the music of Sekko Chinen.
In 1927 the Afuso Ryu Gensei Kai, was established to perpetuate classical Okinawan music. Through the ravages of the Second World War and the uncertainties of the post-war period, the Afuso Ryu Gensei Kai has continued the work of passing the music of Yeikabi, Chinen, and Afuso to generations of students. The organization spread to mainland Japan and China,Hawaii,North America,South America.
In 1927. Master Kin Ryojin and 16 others established
Afuso Ryu Gensei Kai. Master Kin, together with Furugen Seifo, and Miyazato
Haruynki developed a strong foundation for research and study of Okinawan
music and performing arts. Despite the devastation of Okinawa in World
War II, classical Okinawan music thrived and gave the Okinawan people a
strong will and hope for the future. Today, the Afuso Ryu Gensei Kai has
over 1,000 members whose interest in classical Okinawan music is inspired
by the past masters' passion for and deep understanding of music. The singing
and sanshin music of the Gensei Kai members accompany nationaily recognized
classical dances. In all their musical endeavors, the members have the
unwavering support of the organization's directors and officers.