|Ubugaa, Awase's Sacred Well sits behind this Utaki|
View Map It! Okinawa in a larger map
|N 26 19.143||E 127 50.168|
Though small in stature, this sacred site has significant meaning to the people of Awase and their history. This is Ubugaa, Awase's sacred well. The picture you see above is the utaki or place of worship for the well. The well actually sits behind this small structure. Like its counterpart, the 'God of Fire', that sits only a few meters away, Ubugaa too has an interesting story about its origin. The sign (translated in English) reads,
Ubugaa was built during the first part of 1768 when the village was formed. It is a well built from natural springs for the villagers to use as drinking water. It was not only used for drinking but also used as a baby's first bath after they were born. People also drink this water on New Years day and has been esteemed for years. During birth, people also took this water to wipe the baby's forehead. The water was also used to wash the body of dead. It was the children's duties to fetch the water from this well when used for a new born baby and New Years. They are taught not to switch hands when carrying the water back home.
31August, 2002 - Awase Restoration Committee
One obvious question is, why is switching the water in the other hand considered a 'no-no'? It was something that couldn't be answered with the given resources. Further research is required. This could be a local tradition or something part of a wider custom. As January 1st comes closer and closer (or later, depending on what day the Lunar New Year falls on), you may see activity heighten as people prepare for the upcoming New Year . It is also not uncommon for people to come here and pray during other parts of the year as well.
Language note: The word "gaa" is of Hogen dialect. It understood as a 'well' or 'spring' when it is appended to another group of words as a suffix. It this case this well is called "Ubu-gaa". The Nakandakari Hijya Spring in Nanjo-Shi is also referred to as "Ufugaa".
Other places of interest nearby: The Awase Shrine, The Meinu Utaki, The Awase War Memorial, Kanumou Well, God of Fire Utaki.