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Izena Village honors its ancestors with ceremony

Date Posted: 2010-04-09

Royal tombs dating to the Ryukyu Kingdom era are in several locations across the island, including the Shuri Castle area and Izena Village, the ancestral home of Sho-En, the founder of the second dynasty of the Ryukyu Kingdom, where residents have taken time to pay tribute to their ancestors and the past.

A religious ceremony, Kuuji-seimeisai, a traditional Okinawan custom originated in China, has been recreated to educate both visiting tourists and local citizens in the ways of the past. The ceremony, organized by the Izena Village Board of Education, brought together descendants of past Ryukyu kings to visit the tomb, and sit in front of the tomb in the open space and to pray. Following prayers, the groups ate traditional foods together and reminisced about their ancestors.

More than 100 court foods were served as visitors dressed in ancient ceremonial dress proceeded to the tomb for the ceremonies. There were many fruits, all decorated on round trays and piled high, as in a tower. A pig was roasted, along with chickens, and served with a variety of sweets in front of the tomb.

The ceremony’s been conducted for more than 140 years, with each year’s ceremonies including Okinawan traditional dance. The island’s best dancers were chosen and invited. Asanori Mekaru, an 81-year-old from Urasoe City descendant from a Ryukyu royal family, said “I’m so happy to have the ceremony. I want to appeal to more people outside of Izena Village to get involved with this ceremony, and come see our family tomb and ceremonies.”

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