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Friday, January 18, 2013

"Melody Road - Futami, Nago City"

Melody Road in Futami, Nago City

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Melody Road - Futami, Nago City

     N 26 33.001E 128 02.070

Melody Road - Futami, Nago City

A road that plays music?...

On the eastern side of Nago City next to the Ōura-wan Bay lies a small inconspicuous town called Futami. And right across, in the neighboring town of Ōura, sits an old abandoned hotel (top right in picture above) stealing the whole scene as travelers pass by gazing and pondering over its ill-fated demise. But decades before this hotel was built, something else was old and famous Okinawan folk song called Futami jōwa (also pronounced and spelled as Hutami jōwa  二見情話). In 1945 some time during the war, two Okinawans, by the direction of US Forces, were told to vacate the Mabuni area (present day Itoman). They had first moved to Yonabaru, but then finally settled in Futami on June 20th, 1945 just days before the end of the war. Shortly after (perhaps out of inspiration for surviving a hellish and war-torn region), they decided to write a song about their new home, Futami. For two months they worked on it and in November of 1945, the Okinawan folk song, Futami jōwa, was born.

Over a Half-Century Later. Sixty-seven years later, inspiration returns to Futami once again. This time with the help of science. For several months using math and the laws of physics, road crews carved out specially cut grooves along 340 meters stretch of road. Driving over it makes a special sound. The end result; a road that plays music. The song,...Futami jōwa. Late November 2012, in the same month that the original song was created 67 years ago, an official ribbon cutting ceremony was conducted and 'Melody Road' was officially open to the public, and the villagers of Futami were once again filled with great honor.

How to Hear the Song (please read the following).
1. The grooves only exist on one side of the road. You have to pass the entire song first on the non-cutting side and then turn around at the starting point. Turn around right around this sign area.
2. The starting point of the song is denoted by a 'blue painted G-Clef' music symbol on the road. You will also see a yellow traffic sign as seen in this picture.
3. To hear the music, make sure your windows are down. Once you pass the starting point, your car needs to be traveling at an average of 40 kph. The song ends 340 meters later.

Hear the Music (Video). To hear the actual music on Melody Road being played click on THIS YOUTUBE VIDEO produced by OkiNinjaKitty. To hear the same song performed with a sanshin and vocals click ON THIS YOUTUBE VIDEO for comparison.

The Song's Meaning. The song is written as a duet between a man and a woman. In summary, it is a song of love and of hardship about a man from Shuri and a woman (origins not specified) longing to be with each other, never to be separated again. The song starts out describing a wonderful place with pretty mountains next to a beautiful ocean,... a place called Futami. And it is there, the couple wish to marry and to forget the past, to forget the war, and to live happily every after.

The Dedication Stone. Part of the song's lyrics can be seen carved in a Dedication Stone behind the Futami Community Center (See map icon above). The story behind Futami jōwa is also written down below.

Direction. Take Highway 329 north into Nago City. Then take Highway 331 veering east. You will pass through two tunnels. After the second tunnel it will be your first left. You will end up passing the entire song to get to the starting point. Make a U-turn near this road sign and look for the blue painted G-Clef music symbol along with this yellow sign.

Source of Information. Song origin and information derived from the Dedication Stone. Opening Ceremony information:

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The names of the song's creator is on the Dedication Stone. It is of a Mr. Teruya. The second name is believed to be a relative sharing the same last name, which lead us to believe that it was 'two' who left the Mabuni region. It is possible that more had fled to Futami. Further research is pending.

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