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History comes alive at northern theme park

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2006-06-16

Ryukyu Mura is a modern day flashback to the Okinawa traditions of a century ago.

Ryukyu Mura is a traditional Okinawa village, dressed as one would find thousands of such villages across the Ryukyu archipelago in a time when life was simple, Japanese were visitors and Americans simply weren’t around.

Tucked away near the base of Takoyama Mountain only miles north of Kadena Air Base and the Army’s Torii Station in Yomitan, Ryukyu Mura is a theme style folk village housing dozens of ancient cultural displays, buildings and crafts. The owners painstakingly disassembled ten buildings from other locations in Okinawa, then rebuilt them, complete with red tile and thatched roofs, at the site in Onna Village.

Today, visitors to Ryukyu Mura experience a cultural transformation to an earlier era, complete with workers wearing dress befitting of the times.

Throughout the village, artisans demonstrate the trades and skills that grew with Okinawa, including traditional pottery, Shanshin three-string instruments, fabric, paper and sugar cane production.

A popular site within Ryukyu Mura is Nakasone House, dating back nearly two centuries in the Zakimi area of nearby Yomitan. Aside from the traditional architecture, the opportunities exist to see a weaver create a local traditional textile, hanaui. There’s also plenty of traditional Okinawa music and dance.

A popular attraction is the Habu Center, an area dedicated to the three species of indigenous poisonous Okinawa snake. The Center explains much about the slithering creatures.

Ryukyu Mura brings to life the unique Asia-wide influences that impact Okinawa, with architecture, materials and culture tracing from Korea to the north southward to southeast Asia’s Thailand, Malaysia and Singapore.

Ryukyu Mura was created nearly 25 years ago to preserve the customs and traditions that began dying away during the American occupation following World War II. Many traditional clay and red tile roof homes were destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa.

Getting There

To visit Ryukyu Mura, head north from Kadena Rotary on Highway 58 for roughly six kilometers. One you pass the pig and cow statues at Okinawa Ham on the left, look for the big Ryukyu Mura signs. Turn left, then follow the road for three kilometers.

The Cost

The park admission is \1,000 for adults, \850 for junior high school students and \500 for elementary school students. The Ryukyu Mura is open daily from 8:30am to 5:30pm.

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