Accepted Paper:

Resilience of community from disaster: typhoon and house destruction in Okinawa  


Takeshi Tamaki (Nara Prefectural University)

Paper short abstract:

This study examines how typhoons impact on Okinawa, and demonstrates how Okinawan villages had become a countermeasure against disaster. For these purposes, I will argue two main points: house destruction by typhoons and the social relationship accompanied by house building.

Paper long abstract:

The discussion and the conclusion of this study will identify a characteristic function of community in the time of disaster and its historical changes from the viewpoint of social resilience.

Okinawa is a typhoon's corridor, and it caused enormous damages to houses every year at least until the 1960s. It is easy to imagine that a thatch-roofed house is more vulnerable than a reinforced concrete house. Actually, as house structure changed, the degree and the number of destroyed houses reduced. So a historical process of structural change of houses is the first focal point of my study.

The second point of my study is social relationship accompanied by house building. Building houses would not be a carpenter's affair but a custom of village community in many rural areas in Okinawa before the 1950s. The custom was called "yui" which means lending-and-borrowing of labor power. If you plan to build your house, you can "borrow" manpower from your neighbors for all the process of house building. In return, you have to "lend" your manpower to your neighbors in case of their house building.

After typhoon, however, mending or rebuilding houses was not the matter of "yui" but "koruku". Contrary to yui, koruku is a reciprocal custom of "giving-and-taking" not "lending-and-borrowing". At the time of disaster, people cooperate and help each other for nothing. This custom leads me to consider relationship in a community as an important countermeasure against typhoon and social capital functioning for community resilience.

Panel P023
Living with disaster: comparative approaches (JAWS/JASCA joint panel)