Okinawa Tourism Information:Canyoureadthis?Difficultplacenames(southarea)

Can you read this? Difficult place names (south area)

post : 2017.04.21 07:00

You have probably noticed some signs you can’t read while driving – the mysterious place names of Okinawa. I would like to introduce you some of them around the southern area of the main island, my hometown.



The area in Nanjo City is called Tedokon. In Itoman City, there is another place called Ahagon. Both sound like Japanese monster movie names, don’t they?



In the Okinawan dialect, slopes are called “bira”, “hira” or “fira.” The slope in the picture is called “Shinzato Bira.” In the “Kojiki (Japan's oldest historical record),” there is an area mentioned called Yomotsuhirasaka in the Izumo area. “Saka” is Japanese for slope and it is interesting to see both “hira” and “saka” in the same name.

It means that Okinawan and mainland Japanese languages are related through archaic words. It is kind of moving when I think about the connection in the ancient period.



If you have visited Tamagusuku, Nanjo City, you have probably seen the clear spring.



Nakandakari Hiijaa is an important cultural resource.



Next, I would like you to know about the famous beach among locals in south. We Okinawans say the word new, “miimun,” and the word field, “baru” or “bara.” You may know what I am trying to say here.



Yes, the answer is “miibaru”.



Ou Island is accessible by car from the main island. There is a popular Okinawan-style tempura shop there. There is a haarii (dragon boat race) festival to wish for a great sea harvest and safety on the fourth day of the fifth month of the lunar calendar every year. The picture shows sabani, the traditional fishing boats.



A tiny sabani can be seen on the bridge at the entrance to the island.



There is an area called Gushichan in Yaese Town located next to Nanjo City. You can also call it Gushikami, but locals prefer call it Gushichan. The area called Kunigami is in the north, but locals call it Kunjan instead. I think the similarity is interesting.



Kyan is in Haebaru Town. But again, locals refer to it as that Chan.



One area in Yaese Town is called Kochinda. Kochi (east wind) and Hae (south wind) are introduced in a list of archaic words and remain place names in modern Okinawa



Can you read the name on the bus stop sign in Tomigusuku City? Some area name fanatics may be able to.



The bus stop is called “bin”.

This area used to be called as “boemu” or “bin”. The kanji character was picked as a phonetic symbol rather than its meaning. For the sake of posterity, the name “bin” has been kept by local people with due respect.



I wonder why people use the word “bin.” Back in Ryukyu Kingdom period, there was a trade agreement with the Fujian Province of China. People used to refer to Fujian Province as “bin” and that may be where the name came from. It is fun to drive around thinking about the source of local names.


Okinawa CLIP photo writer: Naoko Tsuruta