Okinawa Star Sand: 星砂

星砂 Hoshizuna: star sand

There is also a second type called 太陽の砂 taiyou no suna: sun sand

These 2 types of sands are similar but are actually two different microorganism skeletons. Many people just call both of them star sand, not realizing there is a difference. Some people show photos that say, “I found star sand!” but in actuality it is sun sand.

Where can you find star and sun sand? While you may be able to find it various locations, it is not very common to find it on the Okinawa main island (not impossible… just not so common). Below are some places where star and sun sand is easily found! I will add a few more when I have time.

**Special Note: Some of the more famous beaches request that people do not take star sand from the beach! So please be respectful of this.

You can usually buy star sand at various tourist shops all over Okinawa (for instance, try Kokusai-dori if you are looking to purchase some). I have a necklace and earrings with star sand. It is a little cheesy, but I thought it was cute.



Places you can see star sand first hand:

Kudaka-jima 久高島, Upaama beachウパーマ浜: You can take a short ferry ride here.

Tokashiki-jima 渡嘉敷島, Ura beach 浦ビーチ  and Aharen 阿波連ビーチ: You can reach this island via a 1-hour ferry ride.
Ura beach:
Aharen beach:

Hateruma-jima 波照間島, Peh beach ペー浜: You can reach this island by flying to Ishigaki-jima, then taking a ferry ride. It is not convenient for a day trip, so you will need to stay overnight.

Taketomi-jima 竹富島, all over: You can reach this island by flying to Ishigaki-jima, then taking a ferry ride. This is an easy day trip from Ishigaki. This is the location of the famous “Star Sand Beach” 星砂の浜.

Iriomote-jima 西表島, all over: You can reach this island by flying to Ishigaki-jima, then taking a ferry ride. This is an easy day trip from Ishigaki.

Hatoma-jima 鳩間島, all over: Ferries run here infrequently from Ishigaki-jima, so you will need to plan this one well if you want to visit. This place is rather remote and quiet.

Yoron 与論島, Yurigahama 百合ヶ浜: Actually, this is technically part of Kagoshima, however, you can reach Yoron fairly easily from Okinawa. It is about a 4 hour ferry, or you can fly there from the Naha airport (much shorter). Yurigahama is a sand bar, located off of Ooganeku Beach 大金久海岸.

Star Sand Folktale:

There is a folk tale from Taketomi-jima about the “sandy beach of stars.” It is a story of when the Yaeyama islands were still being created.

The sky star goddess (the Southern Cross) conceived children with Polaris (North Star). When birthing the star children, she asked the heavenly god where she should give birth. He responded that there was an island with beautiful coral and white sand and so she should give birth just off the shore of this island, the current location of Taketomi-jima. The star goddess bore her star babies into the sea. However, the god of the sea was angry that she birthed them into his ocean without asking permission. The furious sea god called upon a sea serpent to swallow up all the star children and not leave any remains. The sea snake swallowed all the star children of the star as commanded by the sea god. Later, only the small white star-shaped bones of the star children were left, washed ashore on the island and mixed in with the sand. The god of the heavens collected the bones, put them in a censer, and burned them with incense to send the souls of the stars children to heaven to be with their mother (in some stories, it is instead a sacred priestess not the god of heavens that performs this ritual). So, it is said that the souls of the star children became stars themselves, brilliantly surrounding the star goddess up in the heavens.

Difference between star sand and sun sand can be seen easily:

(pictures coming soon).

Seaside Drive-In: シーサイドドライブイン

The Seaside Drive-In is an assuming place located near Moon Beach Hotel in Onna (North). It is open 24 hours, and is sort of charming in its own way. It reminds me of Hawaii, actually, so I felt very comfortable inside like I was eating back home.

The food is cheap, nothing exotic, just sort of a typical drive-in diner menu; it has “western,” Japanese and Chinese dishes (seriously, if the menu had some spam options, chili, and loco moco I would swear I was in Hawaii). My husband and I both got sandwiches, a side of fries and a soup for the husband– our bill was ~1100 yen. We were quite satisfied with our lunch. I cannot believe we passed by this place a few times to never check it out until now! If you are looking for a cheap lunch spot with plenty of options in Onna, this is a pretty decent place to check out. Plus, you can even get take-out if you don’t want to eat inside; the counter is to the left of the entrance doors outside.

There is even a jukebox, 100yen for 2 songs.


Bonus: Abandoned restaurant island?! Out the window of the diner (or from the parking lot) you will spot a strange little “island” with a pretty dilapidated structure, only about 20 m from the shore. It is called “Hiituu-jima” ヒートゥー島, translated as “Dolphin Island” in Okinawan language. The reason being they used to hunt/kill dolphins in the area of Nago Bay around the island and eat them so there is some rumor of it being a haunted or ghost spot (kinda like the opposite of a power spot). Though I hear the custom of eating dophin is still practiced in the Nago area even today; it used to be a protein source for Okinawans.

The owners decided to open a restaurant only accessible by boat (you can already imagine why this might be a failing idea) that would serve hiittuu (dolphin) on the menu and started building on the small island; however they did not end up getting permission or approval from the local authorities, dooming their restaurant to never actually open. So, now it is in ruins. Perhaps the revenge of the dolphins.

There is also a rumor that unhappiness always comes to those who enter this island. There was a young man who went to the island to explore the ruins. It seems that he broke the mystery stone shrine inside and took pictures; it is said that he died the same day due to an accident.

Since it is technically private property I cannot encourage you to visit it (you could easily swim/snorkel in the area), or if the tide is low you can practically just wade out. There are signs (in Japanese) that say no trespassing, so keep this in mind if you try to seek it out and get into trouble. That being said it does not keep out some of the fearless urbex-ers, as there seem to be a few blogs out there with photos of this place, as well as a fair amount of graffiti decorating the ruined building.

**心霊 shinrei spirit, ghost, soul; can also be used in “haunted” spot (心霊スポット shinrei supotto).


Tanabata 七夕 & Somen そうめん

七夕 Tanabata: Japanese Star festival on July 7th (read more here).

そうめん (素麺) somen: a type of noodles made of wheat flour so they are white and very thin. It is a very popular dish during summer.

I wrote previously about Tanabata and how it is not really celebrated the same in Okinawa. But with ever-changing populations, you see a little more each year.

A traditional food for Tanabata is… somen! Not only is it perfect as a summer dish, but the noodles represent the Milky way and Orihime’s threads (she was a weaver).

This type of somen dish is served chilled with a a tsuyu つゆ dipping sauce (mix of shoyu and dashi). If you want to be fancy, you can slice up okra and serve on top (they look like cute little stars). Or you could cut other veggies into star shapes, but that sounds like too much work for me, although there are many Japanese kitchen gadgets used for bento to aid with this. Perhaps you could even find those cucumbers grown into star shapes here in Japan.

Some places in Okinawa will have a nagashi-somen 流しそうめん event (translation: flowing noodles) around this time of year. A bamboo “slide” is set up and you grab them as they go buy with your hashi 箸 (chopsticks). It’s a lot of fun, so I recommend trying it.

(photos coming soon).

Hyakuna Beach and Nanjo Cultural Properties

Nanjo 南城 meaning “southern castle” is unsurprisingly located in the southern area of the island. In Nanjo, there are many cultural and historical properties, most famously, perhaps, the Seifa Utaki 斎場御嶽 (also spelled Sefa Utaki).

**utaki 御嶽 is a Ryukyuan term for “sacred place,” oftentimes a water spring, mountain, woods, cave, etc.

The area I went to today qualifies as another “power spot” and it is quite close to Seifa Utaki. It is another spot related to the goddess Amamikiyo.

ヤハラヅカサ Yaharazukasa is the name of the monument submerged at full tide, and is totally revealed at low tide. It is located within the Hyakuna beach 百名ビーチarea.

The meaning is broken down into ヤハラ yahara, which can be soft, healed, gentle (柔らかい yawarakai, 癒されるiyasareru, 優しい yasashii in Japanese). The second part ヅカサ zukasa means mound, 塚 zuka in Japanese. So the meaning is something like a mound to receive gentle healing.

Amamikiyo touched down at yaharazukasa through Hamagaa utaki 浜川御嶽 (utaki means sacred spot) after Kudaka-jima; 浜川 Hamagaa would be normally be pronounced Hamagawa in Japanese (beach + river). Hamagaa utaki is a small “shrine” area with a spring (gaa 川, river/spring in Okinawan language) running through the Ryukyuan limestone cliffs. It was happily burbling as I explored the area. This utaki area was also supposedly a location where the goddess would rest and heal. She came from the sea kingdom Nirai-kanai, the home of the gods and created the Ryukyu Islands.

The Hyakuna beach is free; same with parking if you go all the way down to the end of the drive. If not, you can also pay for parking in a lot about halfway to monument area, more by the beach sports access area.

I did not check the tides since I was just wandering about so, alas, I ended up here at nearly high tide. Sometime I shall go down just for low tide to see the monument in its fullest.

Later we went to the parking and cafe area for Seifa Utaki to enjoy some cool treats at the 2nd floor cafe. I had a mango float and my husband had shikwasa (Okinawan lime citrus) kakigouri (shave ice). The view was quite beautiful and we chose to sit outside and enjoy.

address for Hyakuna Beach:
*When you park at the end of the road, you can see a sign pointing into the wooded area. That is where Hamagaa utaki is. From the utaki, there is a rock step path down to the beach directly in front of the yaharazakasa monument. There are some well-worn signage with both English and Japanese information.

Seifa Kitchen cafe せーふぁキッチン:

Power Spots in Okinawa

パワースポット power spot: a “spiritual” spot, a place to refresh your mind, soul, and body. Many people believe that coming to these spots can sort of gain a spiritual power or energy within you. Some people also visiting these spots will imbue you with luck. There are many in Japan, especially in shrine or temple areas. So of course, in Okinawa we have quite a few. There are many small ones hidden around the island, but here are some of the more well-known places where you can power up. Just remember, these sites are considered sacred, so please treat with respect if you visit them.

Many of these power spots are also “utaki” 御嶽, a Ryukyuan term for “sacred place,” oftentimes a water spring, mountain, woods, cave, etc.


  • Seifa Utaki 斎場御嶽: This is the location that the goddess Amamikiyo appeared after creating it.
  • Island of the Gods, Kudaka-jima 久高島: A short ferry ride away, this is considered a holy place and is where the goddess Amamikiyo first created the Ryukyu Kingdom. Take the ferry from Azama Sun-sun Beach.
  • Gangala Valley ガンガラーの谷: limestone cave.
  • Shuri-jo 首里城: there are many utaki and other power spots concentrated within the grounds of Shuri-jo (castle) park.
  • Shuri, Kincho stone pavement area, Big Akagi (acacia) tree 首里金城町の大アカギ: This tree survived the Battle of Okinawa, and is considered to be full of energy, a tree that a god descended from during the Ryukyu Kingdom era.



  • Dai Sekirinzan Park 大石林山: far up north in Yanbaru. Very popular spiritual power spot.
  • Kouri-jima 古宇利島, island of love: especially the “heart rocks,” connected by bridge.
  • Mount Gusuku 城山 (also called Tatchuu タッチュー in Kunigami area Okinawan language): Ie-jima 伊江島, a short ferry ride. Take the ferry from Motobu Port.
  • Warii-banta ワリーバンタ: also called Bise no Warumi 備瀬のワルミ in Bise 備瀬 near the Aquarium. Unfortunately this place has been bought up by a private buyer, and it is unclear whether it will remain open to the public as of right now it is fenced off.
  • Taataki ター滝 (English names: Taa waterfall, Tataki Falls): I hesitate to list this one, as the trek to get there can be a bit treacherous, and there have been accidents in the past. At another waterfalls trekking location (Aha Tanagaa-gumui 安波のタナガーグムイ), there was recently the death of a young military member. So please use caution if you decide to try to get here, and especially do not go during/after heavy rain– so many people have had to been rescued at these locations because they do not realize how quickly the water level rises. It might even be possible closed off for the time being, as the town/prefecture is concerned for public safety in these areas.
  • Shiokawa (salt river): An unusual water source, a salty spring. It is uncertain the mechanism that allows this water source to be salty. I heard there are only 2 places in the world like this, the other one being in Puerto Rico.

Now, I may not particularly subscribe to the concept of “power spots,” but there is no doubt a refreshing energy you gain simply by visiting the beautiful outdoors in Okinawa. Many of these places have beautiful views with plentiful greenery, located outside the concrete jungle of the main island. Why not try visiting some of these spots while in Okinawa and see for yourself if they rejuvenate you. Or perhaps you will find a “power spot” of your not on this list.

*I will update with some of the “smaller” lesser known power spots soon.

As a side note, there are also “haunted spots,” sort of the opposite of “power spots,” known as 心霊スポット shinrei supotto (“ghost/spirit spots”)… perhaps I will make a list of some of these in Okinawa some time.

Hamauri, 浜下り

The third day of the third month in the lunar calendar is Okinawa’s tradition that occurs on hinamatsuri in the lunar calendar (March 3rd). It is called 浜下り, pronounced hama uri ハマウリ (in Japanese these would be hama ori). 浜 hama means “beach,” and 下り uri is “to descend.” Some people may observe it on the western calendar date, but more often it is observed on lunar calendar date. **In 2017 this day will be on March 30th.

This is also associated with the event on Henza-jima, called Sangwacha (a fisherman festival). Sangwachi-gwashi (translation: March sweets) is commonly eaten by the beach.

On March 3rd of the lunar calendar, families take their girls down to the beach and get in the water to “purify” or “cleanse” them, and to pray for good health. The seawater is supposed to get rid of any bad spirits, curses, etc. Sometimes families will collect shells, harvest asa アーサー (type of seaweed) or small clams in the tidal areas, and often have a beach-side picnic. One of the ladies in my class reminisced about when she was a child, how on Hama uri her mother took her down to the beach, they would go digging for clams and then have a picnic. She explained that on this day, the tides are low, so it is easy to harvest the clams and asa.

The Legend behind Hamauri:

Long ago, a young man visited a young girl of marriageable age one evening. He was obviously a nobleman, but he didn’t speak much about himself. He spoke sweetly to the young woman and they were became lovers. When the parents found out their daughter had become pregnant, they decided to discover more about who the mysterious nobleman was since he never said where he was from. The parents told the girl to stick a needle with a long thread to the bottom of the nobleman’s kimono when he next visited.

That night as he slept, the girl did as her parents told her. The next morning they followed the thread deep into the woods, into a cave, and inside the cave a huge snake was coiled up that spoke to them. The snake said if the girl did not enter the sea to purify her body, she would bear his children– they realized he was not a man at all, but a magical snake.

When the parents returned home, they immediately took their daughter down to the ocean to purify her body in the salt water– dead baby snakes flowed out of her body! The evil snake’ magic spell was broken and the young nobleman was never to be seen again.

Henza-jima, many people have picnics and are playing in the tide pools. Some of the older folks are collecting asa to use in Okinawa dishes later.

Muuchii ムーチー: Folklore and Recipe

Previously, I posted about the special Okinawa mochi called muuchii ムーチー (鬼餅). It is traditional to eat muuchii* on Muuchii-no-hi ムーチーの日 (12/8 of the lunar New year).

*also commonly spelled as “muchi” in English.

Eating muuchii on muuchii-no-hi is derived from an old Okinawan folk tale. There are some more macabre (and sexualized) versions of this tale, but I will stick to one of the children’s version that they air on TV here… gotta keep it PG.

This story is “Oni mochi” or in Okinawan language, “Unee Muuchii” 鬼餅. (鬼 oni means demon, 餅 mochi means rice cake). **some variations I have seen on “oni” in Okinawa language are also ウニ uni and ウナー unaa. I suspect these are all correct depending on the region of Okinawa.

Long ago, a brother and sister lived in a village near Shuri called Ozato. The brother became possessed by a demon and ate livestock at night; he even started living in a cave. In some stories, it is also rumored that the demon-possessed brother began eating children. The sister found out, so she came up with a plan to get rid of the demon.

In order to exorcise the demon, the sister made a muuchii (mochi) with iron nails inside and wrapped it with sannin 月桃の葉 (shell ginger leaves, called caasa カーサー in Okinawan language).

She tricked the demon to eat the mochi; the iron nails rid the brother of the demon and they pushed it off the cliff to kill the ogre!

In some of the lesser PG stories, the brother dies as he is the oni and the sister dies falling off the cliff with the oni, or weirder yet the sister has a “second mouth” which eats demons that is located “under her kimono”… I am sure you can guess as to what this might mean.

Anyway, the story happened on December 8th of the lunar calendar, so ever since it is a custom to eat muuchi on this day to ward off demons, protect from evil, and pray for good health.

Similar to setsubun, there is the custom of saying:

ウネーフカ(鬼は外) unee-fuka (demons outside)
フコーウチ(福は内)fukoo-uchi (luck inside)

Around this time of year, all the grocery stores start displaying the products to make muuchii, and shops take pre-orders. As I mentioned in the previous post on muuchii, people with children will buy the same number of muuchii as the age of their children and tie them up with string, hanging them up in the house; this practice is called sagimuuchii サギムーチー. People who had a baby in the past year will make up lots and lots of muuchii (this practice is called ハチムーチー hachimuuchi 初鬼餅) to hand out to relatives, neighbors, and friends; last year one of my eikaiwa students became a grandmother and brought us all in muuchii. For the baby, they also have the custom of making chikara muuchii (力 chikara means “power”) which is much bigger then regular muuchii in order to pray for the healthy growth of the baby. Muuchii is eaten as a lucky charm for the prayer of health and longevity. This coming year, Muuchii day (ムーチーの日) is on January 24th 2018; December 8th of the lunar calendar.

There are a couple ways you can make muuchii. First you can buy the pre-mixed bag, just add water. All the grocery stores sell these, in usually in a variety of flavors such as beniimo (purple sweet potato), brown sugar (one of my favorites), taanmu (taro), yomogi (mugwort), kabocha (pumpkin), ukon/ucchin (turmeric), or even just plain. You can also buy the ingredients separately, so you can mix up the flavors as you like; again all the powders to this are in the grocery store. A lot of the mochiko and flavor packages even have the recipe/directions for muuchii on the back. If you really want (or don’t have access to powdered beniimo), you could even do it some more traditional ways like mashing beniimo to get the flavor in instead of the powder. Overall, it is super simple and it does not have to be precise, just don’t use too much of either water of sugar.

For the shell ginger leaves: you can buy these at JA farmers market or just ask someone if you can have some from their yard… they are everywhere!

Recipe for Beniimo muuchii (purple sweet potato): This one uses the powders. Maybe I will post the longer version later if I find a good recipe. You can halve or quarter the recipe, which is what I normally do.

mochiko もち粉, 1kg
beniimo powder 紅芋粉,200g
sugar, brown or white, 200g
water 4-5 cups
shell ginger leaves 月桃の葉, ~50 pieces (cleaned!)
vinyl string for tying muuchii

Knead together the mochiko, beniimo powder, sugar and some of the water (it will probably be a bit sticky at first, that’s okay). Make sure it is not too dry or too wet, it should be pliable but not too sticky or soft; you may want to experiment with the amount of water (the ratio should be somewhere in the range of 2:5 to 3:5 of water in mL to dry ingredients in grams). Shape into rectangular shape onto shell ginger, wrap and tie with vinyl string. Steam muuchii well for ~3o minutes. Carefully remove and let cool. Finished! Hopefully this year I can take some nice pictures of the making and shaping process~ you can see how truly easy it is to make yourself.

Brown sugar muuchii (10 pieces): mochiko, 300g; brown sugar 120g (as little as 80g or up to about 150g depending on your taste); water 240cc. Follow the same instructions– knead, shape, wrap, tie. Steam ~30 minutes.

For these recipes you can change the ratios a bit and you will not affect the texture or steaming time much. Some recipes will call for dried potato flakes (like those instant mashed potato flakes), but I have not tried using any… I am not really sure how that changes things. Recipes from scratch call for boiling and mashing either white potato or sweet potato into the mixture… again, I have not really tried that (yet).

For reference here is a picture of 2 pre-mixed ready to go muuchii pouches I bought at SanA; left is taanmu 田芋/ターンム (taro) and right is brown sugar (黒糖). All you need is water and shell ginger leaves. The best part– these can also be made into dango 団子! Also for reference below is a picture of mochikoもち粉 (sweet glutinous rice flour) if you go that route.

Some pictures of the process:



Tanabata, “Star Festival”: 七夕

七夕 Tanabata is known as the “star festival” in Japan.

In Okinawa, it is observed during the lunar calendar (like many other holidays…) instead of the solar calendar (more typical in mainland Japan). It occurs on July 7th in many parts of mainland Japan, and the 7th day of the 7th lunar month in Okinawa, usually around August, just before Obon begins. It is the precursor to Obon; mostly it is the day to clean the ancestors’ grave, put flowers, beverages and incense in front of the grave to guide the ancestors’ spirits to come to one’s house. It is a time to ask ancestors to come visit during Obon season; it is believed that the ancestors protect their descendants in the real world, so it is important to take of them in their afterlife.


In present day, Tanabata in Japan is typically celebrated as a school event; students decorate bamboo branches with ornaments and hang strips of colorful paper with their wishes written on them, called tanzaku 短冊. Ornaments made of origami paper are made into shapes such as windsock, stars, lanterns and nets. They all have a meaning; for instance, the net-shaped paper represents a river. Several retail stores and community centers will put up Tanabata trees with decorations, and leave blank slips of paper for you to write your wishes on to hang on the tree.

The story of Tanabata, based on a Chinese legend of the “weaver star” (known as Vega in English) and the “cowherd star” (Altair): There once was a young woman named Orihime (Vega), who was good at weaving cloth and worked very hard to the please her father. But, as she worked very hard she became afraid that she would never fall in love and marry. Her father, Tentei (Sky King), who was a god, arranged for her to meet a hard working cattleman Hikoboshi (Altair) who lived across Amanogawa River 天の川 (literally, heavenly river, the Milky way) on the eastern side, while Orihime and her father lived on the western side.
The two fell instantly in love and married, but subsequently she forgot about weaving and he let his cattle wander all over on both sides; this made Tentei angry. He ordered the two to separate and each to live on a separate side of the river. His daughter wept and pleaded, however, so Tentei relented a little, and allowed the two to meet once a year, on the night of the seventh day of the seventh month.

So, if you look up into the evening sky on July 7 and it is clear, you can see the two stars reunited. But if it is rainy or cloudy, know that they will try to meet again next year. Some children will even make teru teru bozu てるてる坊主 to wish for good weather such that the lovers will meet again!

In Okinawa, the Tanabata story is usually a little different, and actually refers to the Celestial Maiden Legend (Hagoromo), which is believed to have occurred at Mori-no-kawa in Ginowan. The Ginowan summer matsuri is themed around the celestial maiden legend; even the city mascot is the celestial maiden! So, to conclude, Japanese tanabata is celebrated quite differently from Okinawa tanabata. While you may see a few wishing trees up at department stores or community centers and cute tanabata-themed packaged snacks, there really is not much public tanabata celebration in Okinawa like there is in mainland Japan. One day I hope to make the Sendai Tanabata festival held August 6-8 (not quite using the lunar calendar, but close…).

Typically in Okinawa, the only 2 places with “events” around July 7th Tanabata are Okinawa city 1st street shopping arcade in Koza, and the Itoman Peace Memorial Park.


Interested in more? Read Tanabata 七夕 & Somen そうめん


Ryukuan Legend of the Celestial Maiden

森 mori: woods

川 kawa: river/water spring/well

There are many locations in Japan and even Korea where the “celestial maiden” (or also known as “heavenly maiden”) myth takes place; one such place happens to be in Ginowan 宜野湾, Okinawa at Mori-no-kawa 森の川 (also written as: 森川). Tennyo 天女 mean “heavenly maiden” in Japanese. Tennyo-chan also happens to be the city mascot for Ginowan, so you see her image quite a bit in the area.

**In Ryukyuan language 森の川 is actually pronounced “Mui-nu-kaa” ムイヌカー. Though I have honestly never heard anyone call it that, I have only heard the Japanese pronunciation.

Mori-no-kawa Spring is surrounded by a small forested park, with a few monuments explaining the heavenly maiden legend. The spring (known as a ヒージャーガー hiijaagaa in Okinawa language) is considered somewhat of a sacred place where people would gather water for cooking, drinking, laundry, etc; often in Okinawa you will see small altars here. Sacred spots are called utaki 御嶽 in Ryukyuan language, and are oftentimes located at a water spring, mountain, woods, cave, or other natural geologic feature.

In Mori-no-kawa park, you will see a stone wall with a gate leading to the woods– do not try to enter this area, it is an utaki! It is considered sacred, and only priestesses are usually allowed in there. Oddly, it is also right next to the border with Futenma military base, which actually protects it from potential land developers who would mow it over for a luxury resort, high-rise apartment, or golf course. The wall and gate kind of reminds me of a “secret garden” entrance, sort of mystical and such, with all the thick forest behind it.

I have heard rumors that Mori-no-kawa is both a “power spot” and a “haunted spot.” Perhaps I will post the ghost stories of this location sometime. Either way, it is indeed has the air of a spiritual place.

The Legend of Hagoromo (羽衣 hagoromo: celestial robe): A long time ago a farmer (in other stories he is a woodcutter) named Ufuya Okuma was on his way home when stopped by the Mori-no-kawa (spring); to his amazement he saw a beautiful woman, a celestial being, bathing in the water. Not too far away was her celestial robe (called “hagoromo”) hanging on a tree branch. The farmer decided to take her heavenly garment and hide it. When the celestial maiden discovered her robe had mysteriously vanished she was upset since she could not return to the heavens without it. Ufuya returned and came to the “rescue” of the distressed woman, clothed her, and took her into his house, basically tricking her. Since she could not return home to the heavens, she became the farmer’s wife and later gave birth to two children, a boy and a girl. Legend says that one day the maiden heard her little daughter singing a lullaby, “Don’t cry baby. Toubins-hanin’s (angel’s wings) are hidden in the storehouse under the millet. Don’t cry baby.” The maiden rushed to the storehouse and there she found her hidden celestial robe. She immediately left to return to the heavens, never to return again.

What became of her daughter is not really certain, but legend is that the son grew up and became a great king, King Satto, a once great king of the Chuzan region, the central area of the Ryukyu Kingdom during the 14th Century. This is the Ryukuan legend of the celestial robe.

Every year in Ginowan, during the summer, is the Hagoromo matsuri, in part celebrating the legend, but also the culture of the town.

address: 1 Chome-20-6 Mashiki, Ginowan, Okinawa Prefecture 901-2224