By Jenifer Tull-Gauger
On part two of our Monday in Okinawa, we drove out to Ryukyu Mura. Yes, I was the person taking pictures of school children. They ALL wear uniforms and carry large, expensive backpacks. They use the same backpack for years, even throughout all of their schooling. I thought our children and teens would be interested to see that the uniforms are like the ones you see in anime shows.
Ryukyu Mura is a replica village. The things we have closest to it in America are colonial towns where people dress up and reenact the activities of daily life in our colonies. At Ryukyu Mura, people wear the traditional clothing worn over a hundred years ago, and there are demonstrations and displays about the culture and way of life several hundred years ago. Old homes and buildings, over 100 years old, have been moved there and reconstructed.
Ryukyu Mura was one of my favorite places in Okinawa! We spent a few hours there, and I would have happily doubled that. It’s located in a tropical area, on the other side of this main entry building.
This is part of the gigantic rope used in Naha’s huge annual tug-of-war. (We also saw part of the rope displayed in Naha.) A poster gives you an idea of what this tradition is like.
The beautiful details all around us made me think of Disneyland.
Sacred prayer area, torii gate, and a friendly face. “Hai sai” is the way to say hello in the native tongue.
I enjoyed the beautiful plants and displays.
Here’s the pond near the heart of the place. These guys were setting up for a show.
The group went to the habu show. Habu are extremely venomous snakes native to Okinawa. This young man volunteered to have his picture taken with the habu. Here’s the interesting part that tells of the Okinawan beliefs in karma and common sense: after the show, the man put the snake in this wooden box at the corner of the stage, said, “Don’t touch,” and left the room.
Back by the pond, and an old carriage.
Old farm tools and grain storage.
Inside of a house.
It was warm and humid, but not overbearingly so. I moved down the paths slowly, taking pictures of everything. I took over 200 pictures at Ryukyu Mura. Here are some of my favorites:
Shisa costumes worn for demonstrations and parades, and old weapons.
Shisa statues are all over Ryukyu Mura, and all over Okinawa, bringing in good energy and warding off bad ki. There was a large collection displayed on a rooftop.
This water buffalo was helping to move the gears in the middle of the circle, demonstrating one of the first steps in making sugar: crushing the sugar cane. The man in the middle feeds the cane through the crushing mechanism.
We went through the gift shop, and then back on the road. Like I said, I could have stayed there, lingering for several more hours. But I at least got a chance to give everything a quick once-over, and take a picture, which will last longer.
I found the signs on the streets interesting: