Monday, May 27, 2013

Okinawan Folkltale: Legend of Hakugindo Shrine

Offerings on a Daily Basis


This shrine may not be on the top ten places to visit of any traveler's itinerary.

It is an important part of Okinawan culture, that shouldn't be missed.

The history of the shrine, attracts people, from all over Okinawa to visit, every day.

And, they make offerings for a good reason.

 Photos showing the exterior of Hakugindo Shrine were in a previous post.

Today, in this photo, you can look inside the cave over which the shrine was built.

The Story Began over 400 Years Ago



Prior to annexation by Japan, Okinawa was known as the Ryukyu Kingdom.

These events took place between a Ryukyu fisherman and a Japanese samurai.


A samurai loaned money to a poor fisherman, to buy a boat.

The samurai went back to Japan and expected the loan to be paid, upon his return.

Things didn't go well, for the Ryukyuan fisherman.

When the samurai warrior returned, there was no money waiting for him.

In anger, the samurai, drew his sword to end the fisherman's life.

The fisherman warned the warrior, "Never raise your sword in anger."

Stunned, the samurai, let the fisherman live and departed the Ryukyu Islands.

Upon Returning to Japan

The samurai discovered a pair of man's sandals outside his home.

Suspecting, someone was visiting his wife, while he was away, he became enraged.

He drew his sword and entered the house, ready to kill.

Then, he recalled the words of the Ryukyu fisherman and lowered the sword.

Taking a good look at the stranger in his house, he discovered, it was his mother.

She had worn a man's clothing to discourage any male visitors while her son was away.

A Year Later



On the warrior's next trip to the Ryukyu Islands he visited the fisherman.

Having had a very successful year, the fisherman was ready to repay the loan.

The samurai didn't want the money.

He gave the fisherman credit for saving the lives of his wife and mother.

The fisherman had taught him "Never raise your sword in anger."  

The fisherman insisted on repaying the loan but, the samurai refused to accept it.

As a compromise, they decided to bury the money, together.

They placed it in a cave and had Hakugindo Shrine constructed over it.

It would be a place to pray for the safety of the villagers and fisherman's lives.

The legend of Hakugindo Shrine teaches a valuable lesson, that money can't buy.

And, it is the reason you will see people visiting, making offerings and praying there, today.