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Young People Relocate Ryukyu Folk House by Themselves
post : 2013.10.10 21:00
If you walk in the back of Baten Elementary School in Nanjo City, Okinawa, you will suddenly see a wooden building.
This is where the free school “Sangosya”’s field trip is taking place.
There, young Okinawans and Non-Okinawans in their early 20s are relocating an 80 year-old folk house.
“It all started with a folk house located in the back of the University of the Ryukyus that was going to be destroyed. We thought it was a waste so we had the idea of recovering the wood to make a lodge.”
Ereki Kobayashi from Tokyo is heading the planning of the project.
“It seems like it was a Shuri warrior’s house so it was made with rare “Chagi” (Hinumaki Tree) and hinoki cedar. This is why we thought that instead of making a lodge with the wood it would be better to relocate it as it is. A friend of mine took the charge of dismantling it and it took a month to do so.”
It is said that to protect Chagi from worm-eating it is buried from 6 month to a year in a sandy beach and sopped with salt before use.
“A wood so luxurious and that requires so much work to prepare would not still be here if was not 80 to a 100 years old. Unfortunately the friend who was supposed to live in the lodge afterward kind of lost his passion for the project (lol) this is when the Sangosya people came and told me that we could use their land freely.”
Once built, while being used for the free school’s field trips the house will also be become a space for events among other things.
We are told that the construction is handled with 4 people working full-time and 4 to 5 others helping on the average of 1 or 2 coming everyday.
Ereki and his friends are all formerly worked in agriculture and among them none are professional builders.
“There is an altar room here but behind it there is certainly a corridor or a small backroom called “uraza." It’s because it seems that back in the days women would give birth in this backroom. It is said that it was to pull out life from the reverse side of the death world”
“When we say that we are relocating the folk house without making any money out of it, sometimes people tell us that it is a 'waste of time' and it might be hard for our surrounding to understand us but we are really proud of what we are doing.”
In September it will be exactly 2 years since the relocation has started and we are told that they are aiming to finish it before the end of September.
Ereki is still a farmer in Okinawa and works on the relocation after his farming activities from late afternoon to sundown, and almost all day on his days-off. He is working on the site almost everyday.
“But we lack of manpower and we also have to polish all the tiles. So anyone willing to help is more than welcome!”
On a trip to Okinawa, relocating a folk house is a rare experience.
Of course regular tourist spots are okay but in order to have taste of the old Okinawan culture while have an interesting experience for a day one should definitely going to the southern part of Okinawa.
Place: Baten Elementary School, Tsuhako Sashikiji, Nanjo City, Okinawa Prefecture