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Rituals in Okinawa and Amami


Akamata Kuromata

Belief found in many places in the Yaeyama Islands, including Komi village on Iriomote Island, Aragusuku Island, and Miyara on Ishigaki Island, referring to grass-clad, masked deities believed to bring yuu (fertility, good fortune) from Niraasuku (Nirai-kanai in the local dialect). It used also to ...

Hinukan ("fire deity")

A folk belief throughout Amami and Okinawa. As a variant of the name, Umichimon (lit. "honorable three things") suggests, originally the traditional three-stone hearth itself was worshipped, the stones being considered "conductors" (yorimashi) of the fire deity. Today this type of hearth has disapp...

Izaihō

A festival held on Kudaka Island every twelve years (during the year of the horse) from the fifteenth to the eighteenth of the eleventh month. So that the festival can take place without hindrance or impediment, prayers (ugandate) are held from the previous month, and at the end, a ritual feast is ...

Munchū

A type of patrilinear group found on the main island of Okinawa, based on the recognition of a common ancestor. In the latter half of the seventeenth century, the Ryūkyū kingdom determined to strengthen the status system of the gentry class, and to this effect created in 1689 a state-spon...

Nirai-kanai

The Other Realm across the sea (or, on the seabed) where the deities dwell, and from where they bring both good fortune and catastrophe to the human world. A belief held in the area stretching from Amami to Okinawa. In many cases it is considered to exist in the east, but there are regional differe...

Noro

The senior priestess in villages in Amami and Okinawa. "Noro" means "to pray" and also "a person who prays." Norokumoi and norokumo also are used, with kumoi and kumo being honorifics. In the twelfth century clan chieftains called aji ruled over the Ryūkyū archipelago which was divided i...

Obotsu-kagura

The expression indicating, in the region incorpoating Amami and the Okinawa archipelago, the Other Realm where the deities dwell. Obotsu and kagura have basically the same meaning but are used antithetically. According to the Chūzan seikan (Genealogy of Chūzan, 1650) and the Konkō ke...

Omoro

There are many varieties of ancient songs found in the area between Amami and Yaeyama, and one of these is called omoro. Omoro are songs sung between the 12th and the beginning of the 17th centuries in Amami and the Okinawa archipelago, which were collected together in the Omoro sōshi, compile...

Onarigami

In Okinawa women are considered to possess spiritual power; sisters are called onarigami and they spiritually protect their brothers, called umiki. When there are no sisters, paternal aunts take over the role, and are called obagami. The umiki in their turn provide protection in a secular sense for...

Ryūkyū mythology

Two types of creation myth can be found in the Ryūkyūs, the court myth contained in works compiled by the Shuri court, and folk myths circulating in Amami, Okinawa, Miyako and Yaeyama. The mythology is made very complex by the numerous similarities and differences between them and the var...

Ryūkyū Shintō

The term Ryūkyū Shintō not only refers to the Shrine Shintō transmitted (kanjō) from the mainland since the medieval period, but also to traditional Ryūkyū beliefs that are considered primitive forms of Shintō. The oldest work describing Ryūkyū Shin...

Sanjinsō

Also written with the Chinese characters . In Okinawa it refers to a fortune-teller, who can also be called munushiri ("knower of things") or shimuchii ("book"). Fortune-tellers are said to be part of the tradition of male shamans (toki) and indeed most are men. They use knowledge both from b...

Utaki

A sacred area in Okinawan villages like the shrines of village protector kami on the mainland, where deities descend and people communicate with them through rites and festivals. Such sites have different names in different areas, such as mui (grove), uganju (prayer place) and ogami (prayer ritual)...

Yuta

Magico-religious figures found in Amami and the main island of Okinawa. They can enter a state of possession during which they communicate with deities and spirits of the dead. In this condition, they also display distinctive spiritual powers and perform magical practices such as oracles (takusen) ...





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