Folktales relating to Chan-mīgwā

Some folktales of Yomitan village have been released online. Among them are stories relating to karate master Kyan Chōtoku also known as Chan-mīgwā.



 Below we offer a non official translation of the narration.


Title: Chan-mīgwā (Iramina District)

Based on the folktales by Matsuda Nobumasa (born in 1896)


(First folktale)

Chan-mīgwā weighted approximately 50kg, was skinny and at first sight he didn’t look strongly built.

However, he excelled in martial arts and was a very powerful man.

Before the war, when he performed karate at Harayama Shobu (1) in front of the Yomitan village office, his arms and entire body were muscle-tightened like steel.

Everyone was extremely surprised by this superb expert.

Chan-mīgwā was a horse carriage owner by Hīja Bridge.

Once as he went charging rice bags on a horse carriage, carriers from Yonabaru were also present.

As Chan-mīgwā was charging his rice bags slowly as always, the rough Yonabaru carriers got mad and told Chan-mīgwā to “get out of the way. We are going first” and try to start charging their rice bags first.

At that sight, Chan-mīgwā got mad. “What are you saying?! There is an order in things. Don’t behave selfishly!”

So saying, he start kicking the rice bags to put them on the carriage and filled the carriage in no time.

Watching the scene, the Yonabaru carriers realized that they were facing a man with extraordinary power and fluttered by the amazing skills of Chan-mīgwā run away frightened as they were.


(1) Agriculture encouragement contests


(Second folktale starting at 1:49)


And another story…

Chan-mīgwā was teaching karate to the daughter of Yara Rindō

And eventually they felt in love.

One day, as Chan-mīgwā was going as always to the house of the daughter

Some men came pretending that he was trying to take away the Yara daughter and that this behavior couldn’t be accepted.

The young men of Yara came with sticks and altogether chased Chan-mīgwā.

Seeing this, as he was in the vicinity of Hīja Bridge, Chan-mīgwā caught the daughter on his waist and jump on the bridge parapet. The young men did their best to chase him but were incapable of doing so and Chan-mīgwā run away.

Later he and the Yara Rindō daughter became husband and wife.

As you can see, not only being a splendid martial expert, he was a light-footed although being a small person. One day, he escaped by jumping from one roof to the other. It is said that this scene looked like it was a bird flying.

The end!


(The two other folktales are not karate related so forgive us for not translating the narration.)


Extra note:

A similar episode is also introduced in the book "Kadena Town's pioneers" published in 1993 by the Kadena Town Board of Education.



  In the 18-page chapter dedicated to Okinawa karate and Kyan Chōtoku is written the following.

  “Chōtoku who had a house closed by Hīja Bridge decided to start a business of carrying goods from the port to the Naha port’s warehouse (Tundō). As goods were carried by horse carriage, carriers were called “Basha-muchā” or horse coach owner. The work of a carriage owner was a very heavy labor. Therefore, most of the owners were rough people, and most of them were big men hard to be dealt with. Among them, owners care less of each other. On the way to Naha, while the roads were tight, carriers would not give priority to others and this would often lead to people fighting each other. When arriving at the warehouse, they would fight for the order of delivering their freight. These rough men were confident in their dexterity.”
  After this explication, the same episode with the big men from Yonabaru is introduced. However, it is said that Kyan Chōtoku charged sugar bags rather than rice bags doing so not with his feet but using a rokushakubō staff.

Situation update for overseas karateka

 For more than 30 days, there has been no new covid-19 case in Okinawa. Yet the situation in mainland Japan is different. Here is an update for karate enthusiasts who are planning a trip to Okinawa.

 As of June 5th, the list of countries which nationals are denied permission to enter Japan can be found at this link.

 At a coronavirus infectious disease control meeting on May 25th, the government of Japan decided to extend to the end of June the current measures regarding entry to Japan.

 We will keep you posted as new information comes in. Meanwhile, more information can be found at the Japan National Tourism Organization website:

 Until we meet again in Okinawa, stay healthy!

New officers for the Okinawa Pref. Karatedō Rengōkai
  Last week, the general assembly of the Okinawa Ken Karatedō Rengōkai was held and new officers were elected. Nakazato Minoru sensei (photo), head of the Okinawa Shōrin-ryū Shōrinkan Association was appointed as the new chairman of the Rengōkai. For details, please check the Shinkōkai website.


Higa Yūchoku sensei and Passai Dai

 We have published an article on Higa sensei and the kata Passai Dai introduced in the Okinawa Times newspaper in 1969.

6 additional holders of intangible cultural asset

 On May 19, the Okinawa Prefectural Board of Education (Director of Education, Kinjō Hiromasa) announced additional certified holders for the prefecture designated intangible cultural property “Okinawa karate and kobujutsu”. The newly recognized masters are:

    Takara Shintoku (90 years old, Uechi-ryū)
    Iha Seikichi (87 years old, Shōrin-ryū)
    Nakahodo Tsutomu (86 years old, Uechi-ryū)
    Iha Kōtarō (81 years old, Kobujutsu)
    Maeshiro Morinobu (75 years old, Shōrin-ryū)
    Kikugawa Masanari (74, Gōjū-ryū)


Related newspaper articles (In Japanese):

 Ryukyu Shimpo

 Okinawa Times