Tamaudun located in Shuri Kinjo-cho, Naha City, Okinawa Pref. is a royal mausoleum of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It is a National Historic Site and was registered with UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
The mausoleum was constructed by King Sho Shin in 1501. In Okinawa, there is a tradition of building a large and fine tomb to express the reverence to the ancestors. It is considered that the king had an intention of using his people’s reverence toward their ancestors for the stabilization and reinforcement of the national unity. The mausoleum is divided into three compartments laid out from east to west. The bodies were placed in the central compartment till they were skeletonized, and then the dry bones were taken out to be cleansed. After that the bones of kings and queens were placed in the eastern compartment and the other members of the royal family in the western compartment.
Although Tamaudun was severely damaged by Battles of Okinawa, it was restored to the present form after the World War II. Tamaudun was a sacred place of the ancient Ryukyu Kingdom.
Sonohyan Utaki Ishi-mon is a gate located between Shurei Gate and Kankai-mon Gate of Shuri Castle. It was erected by Seito under the order of Ryukyu King Sho Shin. The woods in the inner part of the gate are a sacred place called Sonohyan Utaki. Utaki is a sacred place usually located in each village and the place where the rituals concerning agriculture or fishing and any other communal events were held. Sonohyan Utaki was the most important place for Ryukyu Dynasty, where the king offered prayers for national order and safety before all his travels around the island. It was also the place where Kikoe Ogimi (the highest ranked priestess) dropped in at and offered a prayer on the day her enthronement ceremony was held.
Although the gate was severely damaged by Battles of Okinawa, it was restored to the present form in 1957. It was registered with the World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 2000.
Shikinaen located in Maaji, Naha City, Okinawa Pref. was a detached palace of the Ryukyu kings. The construction started in the era of King Sho Boku (1752-1795) and completed in 1799. The palace with a total area of 4 ha is the largest second residence of the Ryukyu Kingdom. It was used as a rest house for royal family as well as a guest house to receive foreign emissaries.
The palace is famous for its beautiful circuit-style garden. Walking along the circular path, you can enjoy viewing the palace, miniature hill, flower gardens laid out around the pond. The small and large bridges cross over the pond and a Chinese-style hexagonal house is on a small islet. The architectural style is the blending of Chinese and Japanese elements. As most of the buildings were destroyed in Battle of Okinawa, what can be seen today are the restored structures. Shikinaen Garden is an exquisite garden that reminds us of the prosperous days of the ancient Ryukyu Kingdom.
Yuko Tamanaha was born in 1936 in Ishigaki, Okinawa Prefecture. In 1996, he was designated as a Living National Treasure for his 'bingata' dyeing work.
Bingata is a splendid dyeing craft that symbolises the culture of the Ryukyu dynasty. Its color reflects the colors of Okinawan nature. Professional artists compete with each other to succeed and pursue these traditional skills. And Bingata is a dyeing craft that is unique to Okinawa.
Tamanaha studied dyeing under Eiki Shiroma, the 14th in the Shiroma family and one of the three head families of Bingata. When he was 34, Tamanaha began to send his work to exhibitions and received many prizes for excellence.
His career is brilliant but his work is a steady repetition of tasks. The handiwork requires finesse and endurance and considerable effort leads to beautiful work.
Tamanaha is now engaged in making bingata with his family at his studio: the Tamanaha Bingata Institute in the village of Yomitan.
The Naha great tug-of-war is the main event of the Naha festival, held annually on National Sports Day.
The origins of this tug-of-war date back to the Juri Horse Parade in the 17th century when courtesans competed against each other. The present form of the festival began in 1971.
The dynamic tug-of-war takes place on national route 58, to the cries of 'Haa-iya, haa-iya', as a gigantic 200m-long rope is tugged between east and west sides. 15,000 people, including townspeople, servicemen and tourists, participate. This match ends when either side get pulled more than 2 meters in one direction. After the match is over, a piece of the rope, which is believed to be a charm for good health, can be taken back home.
In 1995, the rope used in the Naha Great Tug-of-War was registered in the Guinness Book of Records as the world's largest rope. Its gigantic scale is just amazing.
Shuri-ori is one of the foremost textiles of Okinawa, woven in a variety of styles from figured textiles to kasuri-ikat.
Shuri-ori adopted the kasuri-ikat techniques from the south, and the figured textile techniques from China. Women of the nobility and the warrior class wore it to show rank. Shuri, where the government of the Ryukyu Kingdom was situated, was an appropriate place for the center of politics and culture.
In Shuri, many varieties of dyed fabrics were developed using elegant and sophisticated colors and patterns. This development was intimately linked with overseas trade. Weaving techniques and materials from abroad showed unique texture, such as shuri hana-ori, routon-ori, hanakura-ori and shuri-kasuri.
Shuri-ori is colored with vegetable dyes. It uses Ryukyu indigo, croton and fukugi. It is an elegant textile dyed in many colors, and worn by the warrior class of Shuri
Eisa is a Bon odori dance held in Okinawa during the Bon festival according to the lunar calendar.
Eisa appears in mentions of Naha (Okinawa) in the 'Records of the Joseon Dynasty' in 1479. It is believed that Eisa had started somewhere around this period. One idea suggests that the word 'eisa' derives from one of the Ryukyu 'omorosaushi' songs; another suggests that it comes from from the call 'eisaa, eisaaa'. Neither suggestion is certain, however.
During Eisa, people walk to each house within their own 'shima' (area). This is called 'michi-jyunae' and happens especially after the 15th, after the 'miokuri'. However, there are places where they do 'michi-jyunae' during the three days of Bon festival, according to the lunar calendar.
Eisa mainly consists of taiko drums and dances. Strenuous dances are performed to the beat of the drums, alongside singing from the 'jiutai' chorus. The dozens of dancers moving in step to the taiko drums and the dynamism of the whole, is part of the great attraction of Eisa.