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A Trip to Experience the Mysteries of Okinawa. Popular Power Spots with Legendary Tales
post : 2020.12.29 17:00
Throughout Okinawa, where ancient traditions and beliefs still remain strong, there are numerous locations where mystical and wonderous legends still remain. Perhaps this is so because these locations are exceptionally beautiful and spiritual. In this article, we’ll introduce popular spots with interesting legends, and where you can feel the extraordinary energy when you visit these sites.
Kudaka Island: A Sanctuary in Ryukyuan Mythology
Located about 15 minutes away by ferry from Okinawa Island, Kudaka Island is a small, narrow island with only about 8km in circumference. You can go all around the island on a bicycle in about one hour. The population on the island is about 270 residents. But the island is a sanctuary for the local Okinawans and is also referred to as “the island of gods”. According to Ryukyuan mythology, the god Amamikiyo descended from the heavens and this is where the kingdom of Ryukyu, now Okinawa, was founded. It is an island cherished and protected by the locals based on their traditional beliefs.
Nirai Kanai is the legendary paradise based on traditional Okinawan beliefs. Kudaka Island is believed to be the gateway to Nirai Kanai, and even today, there are over 30 various ceremonies and rituals held there throughout the year. Unlike the other islands within the prefecture, Kudaka Island has not been made in to a tourist destination and the natural beauty of the island has remained untouched. Visitors can feel the sacred energy that flows through the island. There are a number of sites where entry is prohibited, so before you visit, be sure to check the reminders and rules and don’t forget that you are visiting a very sacred place for the locals, so please be respectful.
Tori Ike: Ponds on Shimoji Island with Numerous Legends
The Tori Ike ponds on the west coast of Shomoji Island is designated as one of the most scenic spots and also as a natural monument of Japan. There are actually two ponds located atop the high grounds formed by Ryukyu limestone, where the waters glisten in a shade of cobalt blue. The pond is connected to the ocean and the color changes several times a day due to the effects of the tide. The blue of the pond is enchanting and seems to draw you in as you observe it. Legends of Unaimata (mermaids) and Mamako (stepchild) surround these two ponds.
The surrounding waters are famous as great diving spots, and before, there was a footpath that led to the coast, but in a typhoon that hit the island in 2011, the trail was destroyed. Many visitors are shocked when they discover the trail as it suddenly ends, and are disappointed that they’re not able to walk along the path to the beach. We hope that the trail will be fixed soon so that visitors will be able to see the third pond, the Nabezoko.
Information on the Tori Ike
Location: Sawada, Irabu, Miyakojima City, Okinawa
A Unique Hagoromo Legend of Okinawa
Okinawa also has a few sites connected to their own Hagoromo (heavenly robe) legends. Among them, the Hagoromo legend surrounding the Mui-nu Ka in Mashiki, Ginowan City, is a little different from those legends we hear about throughout Japan. A poor farmer, Okuma Ufuya, finds a heavenly maiden bathing in the springs at Mui-nu Ka, and hides her feathered robe. As the maiden is unable to return to the heavens without her robe, she remains here and marries Okuma Ufuya, and the two are blessed with a son and a daughter. Later, the heavenly maiden learns that her husband had hidden her robe, and she retrieves it and sadly leaves her children to return to the heavens. This is a common turn of events in Hagoromo legends told in other places.
However, the Hagoromo legend of Mui-nu Ka has more to the story. The son that the heavenly maiden left behind, Jana Moi, grows up to be a fine young man, and falls in love with the daughter of a local chieftain, Katsuren Aji, and the two marry. Jana Moi took his wife to his home, and she saw a decrepit house surrounded by farm fields. On the fields, however, the wife saw large amounts of gold. She told Jana Moi how precious the gold was, and he went on to get farming tools with the gold found on his fields, and the local farmers were ever grateful for his kindness. With the trust and loyalty of the local farmers, Jana Moi eventually became the king of Chuzan, one of the three kingdoms of the Ryukyus.
Was the gold found on the farm left behind by the heavenly maiden who had to return to heaven without her children? This is certainly an interesting legend. The Mui-nu Ka spring where the maiden was said to be bathing still remains today and clear waters continue to flow.
A Cave on Ie Island Brings Blessings of Fertility and Childbirth
Ie Island is known for many things, and one of them is for being the home of the singer and song writer, Anly, who is garnering much popularity lately. The island is getting more and more attention on TV as a popular place to visit. You’ll also find sites where mystical legends still remain on this island which is also known to have more cattle than people. The Nyatia Cave, also known as Sennin Cave (cave for a thousand people), is a sacred cave that also saved the lives of many islanders who took shelter here during the Battle of Okinawa.
There is a stone called Hijiru Stone found within the cave. Legend has it that if a woman lifts this stone, she will be blessed with a child. If the woman finds the stone to be light when she lifts it, the child will be a girl, and if she finds it heavy, then she can expect a boy. The Hijiru Stone is well known as a power spot and believers often visit this sacred site to pray for a child. Apparently, the prayers are answered starting from the time when the stone is lifted, so if you’re not married yet or haven’t set your parenting plans, you might want to hold off on lifting that sacred stone.
When we think of ‘power spots’ or sites filled with spiritual energy, we may imagine shrines and temples, but here on Okinawa, there are many, many locations where people refer to as power spots where you may find the natural energy surrounding these locations to be extraordinary. These sites found throughout the island and you can enjoy visiting them whenever you like, but please remember that these locations are extremely important and sacred to the local people, so please respect that and be courteous when visiting such sites.
Okinawa CLIP Editorial Department