Sacred Kudaka “Izaiho” ritual cancelled for third time

The sacred “Izaiho” ritual scheduled to be performed this year on Kudaka Island in Nanjo City has been cancelled for the third time.

The Association of Lesser Gods made the decision to cancel the ritual on July 25. The ritual is performed only every 12 years, and it was cancelled because there is no female Noro shaman to perform the ritual, nor are there enough female attendants who could take part.

The last Izaiho was performed in 1978, but the 1990 and 2002 rituals were cancelled for not having a Noro to perform it. The association lamented the fact that many young women move away from the island to Okinawa’s main island and elsewhere.

Izaho is performed only on Kudaka Island, and traditions that dictate requirements for a woman who is eligible to become a Noro and join the Association of Lesser Gods are very strict. The woman has to be between 30 and 41 years of age, must have grown up on the island, and also be married to a native Kudaka islander.

The ritual would be held for five days starting Nov. 15th of the Lunar calendar. Only female attendants can conduct the ritual, and after being ordained to serve the island gods, they serve to pray for the islanders’ health and prosperity until they are 70 years old.

Kudaka Ward Chief Fumiyoshi Uchima said that the situation is very sad, because this cancellation could mean that there could no more be a chance to select a Noro who would inherit the title and knowledge directly from the elder retiring Noro. “This could mean the end of this tradition,” he said.