Sunday, December 29, 2013

Wakamizu -- The Sacred Water of the New Year in Okinawa

12 Photos of What Takes Place

These images were taken at ceremonies conducted in December of 2012 and 2013.
It may take another two or three years to capture all of this cultural event.
Reviving some of the history and traditions of the Ryukyu Islands is challenging work.
Most of the documentation was lost or, destroyed prior to and, during the Battle of Okinawa.
A group, the Shuri Tonokura Community Association, has revived of this tradition.
shrine dressed in greenery for ritual ceremony
This is the sacred hut (asagi) in Hedo where rituals begin.
Arriving in the village, the day before the event, was a good idea.
It gave me the chance to learn how to build the covered roof from kuba leaves.
And, by the end of the day, I was no stranger in town.
straw-roofed hut and preparations for blessings
Early the next afternoon, preparations for worship began.
procession to shrine by costumed officials
A procession climbs the hill to the house of worship.
man carrying special leaf known as kuba
Some of their costumes represent royalty.
women wearing white robes in procession
The women in white are priestesses or, noros (local dialect).
gold hairpeice on white robed woman
To be determined: Whether this woman was a high priestess or, royalty.
She certainly, was the center of attention, at all the ceremonies.
Prayers and offerings are made at the asagi, before proceeding to draw the first water.
worship at a spring in jungle
The well, called Ookawa, is reached by taking a long, winding trail down the mountain.
Water, drawn from here, is placed in clay jugs and taken to Shuri.
water well where sacred water is drawn
A week later, in Urasoe, Okinawa this well (Takushi Hiija) is visited.
praying and making offerings at a well
Prayers and offerings are made before drawing the water from this well, too.
worship by priestesses and dignitaries below Shuri Castle
At a shrine named Enkaku-ji, just outside Shuri Castle, the water from both wells is mixed.
procession to castle
From there, the procession heads towards the castle.
worshipers entering castle via stone stairs
The castle is entered through the gate named, Kyukeimon.
Here, the sacred water is presented to a woman of royalty with best wishes for the New Year.

That's the part of Wakamizu my cameras haven't captured, yet.
But, we're working on it.

Thanks to the Ryukyu Shimpo, I got this video you can watch, though.

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