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The chimu is the liver. However in Okinawa, the chimu is not simply an organ—it actually refers to the heart of things.

Chimuguri-san: I feel bad for them, my heart goes out to them, I can sympathize

Chimu dondon: My heart is pounding with excitement

Chimu wasawasā: I’ve got a bad feeling about this

Chimu ga nasa: I love you from the bottom of my heart

As you can see, all of these phrases with chimu refer to people who are quivering with deeply felt emotions. Even in Western medical research, scientists are starting to say that movements of the heart come from more than just the brain, and chimu demonstrates precisely that. We feel things with our guts.

In the famous Okinawan folk song Tinsagu1 nu hana, there’s a line, “Basalm dyes your fingernails, but parents’ wisdom dyes your chimu.” I suppose one could also say “engraved on your chimu,” but for me the nuance behind “dyes your chimu” means that you’ve understood your parents’ words even more deeply.

Recently, young people have taken up this sense with new uchināguchi like “chimui.” It means “sympathetic.” It’s used in basically the same way as chimuguri-san.

For example: “Oh no! Kazuhiro forgot his homework and the teacher is mad at him. So chimui.”

Our language has changed and chimuguri-san is now chimui, but I still want chimugukuru to be taken up by the younger generation. Chimugukuru refers to things that are crucial and true, yeah. The liver of the matter.

Editor’s Note:

  1. Okinawan direct for balsam