Monday, September 12, 2011

Sefa Utaki

This is my submission to Travel Photo Thursdays for September 15, 2011

Here's a couple of photos from a recent trip to Okinawa's Sefa Utaki. For those unfamiliar, an Utaki is a holy site in the local religion known as So Sen Su Hai. That roughly translated comes out something like "Therefore because of them, therefore us" or more simply put, we exist because of them. It's a form of ancestors worship that incorporates a little Buddhism, a little Shinto, A little Taoism, Confucianism and a couple of other "ism's" I probably haven't even heard of yet.

One of the things that make this place special is, in addition to being a UNESCO World Heritage site, the interesting rock formations and the super low entry fee of only 300 Yen is the history of the place. This is considered the most holy of all the utaki's in Okinawa and it served as the official site for several annual ceremonies during the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Lastly, the site overlooks Kudaka Jima a small island to the east of Okinawa where local legends have it that all life began.

To my knowledge, there are no longer any "official" ceremonies still held here but many locals will come here to pray and make offerings to the ancestors and the spirits when things aren't going too well on the home front. Given the hard economic times we all face, this place is likely to be a hot spot of spiritual activity for the foreseeable future. Word of advice, if you happen to visit and see some of the locals doing their thing, be respectful. It's their island and even if we have a different orientation to things spiritual, we should at least have the decency respect their ways.

11 comments:

  1. One of these days we need to get out and shoot all these UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Okinawa, Japan.

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  2. How many World Heritage sites on Okinawa are there Doc?

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  3. apart from the fact that Japan is number one on my to-visit list, that first shot is beautiful because of the interesting light and composition

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  4. Would love to go back to Japan and visit this area, only made it to Mt. Fuji and Tokyo.

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  5. I like the first photo. Looks a very mysterious place.

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  6. I love UNESCO World Heritage Sites, especially ones like this one that are natural. I love that it's used for offerings to ancestors.

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  7. The picture of the island in the distance is so pretty!!

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  8. I too liked the first picture but the ocean is very inviting!

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  9. Lovely shots Keith. There's still some shamanism practiced here in Korea as well, and not uncommon to see people having a ceremony (usually near water).

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  10. I can see why this place is a holy site. That's an amazing rock formation. Lovely.

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