Sacred and profane

Hello everybody,

It’s been another wonderful week on the island, a bizarre week, but wonderful in its own way. The weather has been all over the place, last Monday I awoke to sleeting at my window. Very strange indeed to be looking for heat in Okinawa. By Wednesday it was back to the mid 70s.

But on a blustery and cold day, we (Amanda and I) decided to set out to the southeast part of the island in Nanjo City  to another World Heritage Site, Sefa-Utaki.

Sangui – The enclosed triangular space is a place of worship. That’s Miss Amanda there and those two behind her were pilgrims at one of the sanctuaries (ibi).

It is the most sacred site of the Ryukyu Kingdom, Sefa-Utaki appears in legends about the beginning of Ryukyu. Kudaka Island, right off shore, is the ‘island of the gods’, where the founder of Ryukyu, Amamikiyo first landed from the heavens. It is also the birthplace of grains. I’m getting all my information from the handy dandy little brochure that you get when you plunk down your 400 yen. We had ventured to Hama-Higa Island a few months ago with our previous supervisor to the shrine of Amamikiyo, so this was an opportunity to learn more about her. It was lovely to walk around where there was only natural formations and shrines, but no buildings. I had read somewhere that this was a sacred place for women and no males were allowed, that even the king would have to dress as a woman to be allowed entry! In Okinawa, the women are the priestesses, the Noro.

sefa utaki water cisterns
The stalactites drip water which was collected in the little jugs placed beneath. The water was considered holy and used in ceremonies.

So, it was very windy and cold for Okinawa, but we wandered down by a little park and there were all these little fun sculptures. I made a friend along the way.

me and a friend
I think it was a cat..but check out the little sculptures behind, like the bug hanging out in the tree. And yes that is me all LL Beaned up in my lovely storm chaser rain jacket and thick wool sweater!

We drove back and along the way I found another Union Supermarket not too far from my house. Now I haven’t talked too much about Union, but I think I will in an upcoming blog. Let me just say that it is the most fabulous supermarket anywhere…US, Japan, Okinawa….you name it. And there is always something worth talking about, there are always adventures in that store.

In the meantime, I have been thinking about my heritage…not my personal heritage, but Chogun Miyagi and his legacy. What a privilege and thrill to train in Okinawa! I marvel  on a daily basis about this turn of fate that allows me to be here in the position that I am in. I am so grateful. So I have been thinking about visiting his tomb for some time now, but I was prompted by something  my Sensei’s at home said in a recent message to me.

miyagi tomb
Tomb of Chogun Miyagi above Urasoe City.

We were told at our New Employees Orientation (aka – NEO) that we should not go to the tombs of the Okinawans. I had internally debated this for a while and I came to the conclusion that if there are no family members, or the person had been gone a long time and you’re paying homage to them, it can’t be a bad thing.

So I looked it up on my little Apple maps and found out that I live, in fact, 4.9 miles from his tomb. I decided to go.  The directions left by one or two other karateka who had been there were not exactly correct, but I did find a very helpful Okinawan who described it to me. I went up to the top of the hill and was wandering around. I noticed two little birds sitting on top of this one tomb, of course that was it.

If you look behind me on the video, that is the East China Sea and way back in the distance is Ginowan, my home. So, I now know that Chogun Miyagi watches over me from his elevated position and that makes me feel blessed.

I will include a few more photos from along the way this past week.

I have no idea what it is, it’s just pretty. The little fluffy thing behind reminded me of something out of Horton Hears a Who.
shisa garden
Garden of Shisa – I don’t know what they planted to make them all spring up like that!

Have a great week everyone, and thank you for the positive feedback. It’s a pleasure to share my adventures with everyone!