Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Utaki The Sacred Sites of Okinawa (Photos)

      Today for Travel Photo Thursday I'd like to introduce you to Okinawa's Sacred Sites, Utaki.

There are hundreds, if not thousands, of sacred sites located throughout the islands of Okinawa, Japan.

The most popular Utaki are UNESCO World Heritage Sites or within the sites, such as the photos I'm showing you today. The women above are making offerings at a sacred well, within the walls of UNESCO Nakagusuku Castle.

A grove of trees, source of water, stone and a hill all seem to be common themes for Utaki.  Sometimes, there is a small building at the site. It may resemble a shrine or miniature temple but, not an elaborate, brightly-colored shrine you'd see at a Buddhist Temple. We have a few of those, too.

Okinawans are ancestor worshipers. The religion here is a combination of many things. There are several gods in nature and Animism, Shinto, Buddhism, and Confucianism all play a part in the spiritualism on these islands.

Many Utaki, I have come across, are in remote areas, not necessarily on a hill.  Some are found in villages and not in heavily wooded areas.  Most of them will not have signs written in English.

Whenever you see women in the middle of nowhere or in front of a small shrine, or even a pile of rocks, with trays of food, such as rice balls, fruits, something to drink and smell incense burning, you can be sure of one thing.  They aren't having a picnic.  They are more than likely worshipping at an Utaki.

Discrete would be my advice if you happen to come across people worshipping in any culture.  These women consented to my taking their photos because I speak their dialect.  So, I did the silver-tongue work and got Doc Graff, the other Cameraman to handle the manual labor of helping the gals up and down some dangerous stairs. Hah!

For more information on The Sacred Sites of Okinawa visit UTAKI

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