"City of the History" Let's take a walk in the land of Ryukyu in Nanjo City, Okinawa!

Okinawa Prefecture was once known as the Ryukyu Kingdom and for about 450 years, it built its independent civilization under the influence of different cultures.

Let us introduce you to the Ryukyu creation myth, the Paleolithic ruins, and the places related to the birth of the Ryukyu Kingdom in Nanjo City located in the southern part of Okinawa Prefecture.
Maybe you will find something interesting you would love to experience in Nanjo city? Let's start!

1. Sakitari Cave Ruins (VALLEY OF GANGALA CAVE CAFE)


A clue to the Paleolithic culture found at the Sakitari cave ruins site

The Sakitari Cave Ruins are located in the Valley of Gangala, it is a popular tourist destination where you can enjoy stalactites and subtropical nature. Right in the cave, there is a cafe space called Cave Cafe.

Many relics from the Paleolithic period to the Jomon period (between c.14,000–300 BCE) have been found on the Sakitari Cave Ruins site.
The ruins are typically separated into 3 Survey Areas. Human bones and stone tools from the Palaeolithic era were found together in Layer I (stratum approximately 13000-16000 years ago) of Study Area I. It was a big step forward to fill the void in the history of the Paleolithic culture and humankind in Okinawa.

  • Layer 1
  • Layer 1(Relics)
In Layer II (20,000 to 23,000 years ago) there were found mitten crab claws, freshwater snail shells, and eel bones, some of them were burnt and discolored. This discovery helped us to get to know better the eating habits of people from the cave.
And what we found was the fact, that people of these territories had been using marine resources from the sea and rivers rather than wildlife species.

In the same Layer, there were also found various shell products such as the world's oldest fishing hook of 14mm made of marine gastropod mollusk called Gintakahama, fan-shaped shell artifacts with bivalves called Matsuyamawasure, and tusk beads.
The survey is still ongoing, and as new discoveries come out one after another, great expectations are raised for future trends.

*At this moment, admission to the Sakitari Cave Ruins (VALLEY OF GANGALA CAVE CAFE) is only available to Gangala Valley Guided Tour participants. Please make a reservation (online or by phone) in advance.
【Facility name】Valley of Gangala
【Address】202 Tamagusuku Maekawa, Nanjo City, Okinawa Prefecture 901-0616
【Business Hours】9: 00-17: 30
【Regular holiday】Open daily

2. Creator of Ryukyu "Amamikyu"


The creation goddess of the Ryukyu Islands called Amamikyu.

There are several theories in the creation myth of Ryukyu, but the most famous legend is the goddess Amamikyu.

A long time ago, Amamikiyu landed from Nirai Kanai (the land of the gods) and started building a nation.
Amamikyu was sent by the Emperor to create people in Ryukyu. Eventually, She gave birth to 3 sons and 2 daughters. Amamikyu was sent by the Emperor to create people in Ryukyu. Eventually, She gave birth to 3 sons and 2 daughters, some of them became feudal lords, others became priestesses. This was the beginning of Ryukyu's population
It is said that Amamikiyu sowed grains from a five-grain jar that had washed ashore on a beach, and eventually the grains spread to Ryukyu.

The legend says the first place Amamikyu landed in was Kudaka island, which these days belongs to the village Chinen in Nanjo city, Okinawa prefecture. There are sacred places such as Ishiki beach, where the five-grain jar was brought by the wave to, "Fubo Utaki", one of the seven sacred sites, and the "Cape Cabal", where Amamikyu landed on.
▼ Limestone monument Yaharazukasa
Limestone monument Yaharazukasa
Limestone monument Yaharazukasa was the first place Amamikyu stepped on when landed on Kudaka Island.
You can come very close to this monument during low tide on Hyakuna Beach.
▼ Hamagawa Sacred Site
Hamagawa Sacred Site
Sacred site located on the cliff at the northern end of Hyakuna Beach. It is said this place was Amamikiyu's temporary house when she first arrived at Yaharazukasa.
After purifying herself in the freshwater of Hamakawa and living in a nearby cave for a while, she moved to Mintongsk in Nakandakari, Tamagusuku.

There are many sacred sites where Amamikyu is said to have arrived and settled in from the land of lords "Nirai Kanai", and the pilgrimage to the sacred 14 major places is called "Agari Umai".
The pilgrimage of the king started as an event to pray for national peace and a good harvest. Even now, locals pilgrimage to pray for the health of the house of Amamikyu.
・ Kudaka Island
Kudaka, Chinen, Nanjo City, Okinawa 901-1501
・ Yaharazukasa
Hyakuna, Tamagusuku, Nanjo, Okinawa 901-1400
・ Hamagawa Sacred Site
Hyakuna, Tamagusuku, Nanjo City, Okinawa 901-1400

3. Ryukyu's The First Sho Dynasty, second king Sho Hashi

Sashiki Castle Ruins

Sho Hashi unified the divided three mountains (clans) and put an end to the internecine war.

At the beginning of the 14th century, Ryukyu Kingdom was divided into three mountains (clans), Nanzan in the South, Nakayama in the center, and Kitayama in the North.
Sho Hashi aimed to unify the three mountains, and in 1406 with his father, he attacked King Bunei in the Nakayama kingdom and made his father King of the Nakayama throne.
After that, he accumulated his strength and defeated Han'anchi of the Kitayama mountain in 1416, and made his second son Shochu the guardian of Mt. Kitayama.

When Sho Hashi's father died he became King of the Nakayama throne, and in 1429 destroyed Tarumi, King of the Nanzan mountain, and all the three mountains were unified as the Ryukyu Kingdom.
Sho Hashi is said to have laid the foundation for the prosperity of the dynasty by conducting trade with China, Japan, and Korea.

▼ Sashiki Castle Ruins
  • Sashiki Castle Ruins2
  • Sashiki Castle Ruins(Tsukishironomiya)
Sashiki Castle was the castle site where Sho Hashi and his father, Shisho used to live.
After passing through the torii gate of the Tsukishironomiya shrine, you will find the worship hall built at the end of the stairs, and the main hall is built behind it. In the main shrine of the Tsukishironomiya, Yagami the First Sho dynasty is enshrined with the lord of Samekawa as the great ancestor.
Here you can also find Uchibara-no-ton, Sashiki Noro-tunchi, and Kamado ruins.
▼ Shimashi Ozato Castle Ruins
Shimashi Ozato Castle Ruins
The Shimashi Ozato Castle was built for Lord Shimashi Ozato, the Aji, who controlled the Shimajiri area around the 14th century. Castle is located at the eastern end of the Ryukyu limestone hill at an altitude of about 150 meters and was built using the natural terrain.
Later, it was attacked by Sho Hashi and his father, Shisho, and became a foothold for the three mountains unification.
▼ Shashiki Yodare
Shashiki Yodare

"Sashiki Yodore" is said to be the place where Sho Hashi's father and his family are buried.
Originally located under a cliff near Sashiki Castle, but due to the wind and rain damage, it was relocated to the current place in JASDF Chinen Sub Base in 1764.

There are many places related to Sho Hashi in Nanjo City, great courses and guided tours are also held here.
・ Sashiki Castle Ruins
1155 Sashiki, Nanjo City, Okinawa 901-1400
・ Shimashi Ozato Castle Ruins
Ozato, Nanjo City, Okinawa 901-1202
・ Shashiki Yodare
1641 Sashiki, Nanjo City, Okinawa 901-1400
What do you think?
The Sakitari-dong site is another place we expect to discover new facts about Amamikyu, the creator of Ryukyu, and about Sho Hashi, the first king of Ryukyu to unite three mountains for the next 100 years.

There are still many places in Nanjo city that are related to the history of Okinawa.
Don't lose your chance to visit the historical sites of Okinawa and enjoy guided tours for full.

*Due to the spread of infection of the novel coronavirus, business hours of some places may change. Please check the information before your visit.

Learn more about the history of Nanjo City!
・Tourism Portal Site "Rashiine Nanjo city"
The origin of the Ryukyu Kingdom is in Nanjo! Explore its roots from "Sakitari Cave", "Amamikyu", and "Sho Hashi"

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