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Thursday, October 24, 2013

The Cave of Dances


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Uduigama, Onna Village

     N 26 30.109E 127 50.676

Uduigama, Onna Village

Not far from Cape Manzamo, you will find a small seaside cave that is called Uduigama. The term udui (ウヅイ) is of the Okinawan language meaning to dance(i). The term gama is also Okinawan for the word cave. Loosely translated, Uduigama means the Cave of Dances. Long ago, nearby villagers would use this cave to practice kumiodori dances(ii) in preparation for the August Mura Ashibai Festival.(1)(iii) It is said from August 1st to August 10th of the Old Calendar (Chinese Calendar?) that the cave was used by the participants as a place for practice and preparation, and on the first day of the August Mura Ashibai, all the participants would start from this cave, led by their leader (a flag bearer), and take part in a michijune, (a street parade). (1)(2)

Today, formal practice sessions are no longer held inside the cave. However, on the actual day of a Mura Ashibai, an opening ceremony is still performed at the cave as a dedication offering.(2) From time to time, villagers may still use the cave as a place for prayer or to conduct traditional dance sessions for special occasions, and throughout Okinawa, you may find other caves that villagers have dubbed generically as an uduigama. If so, more than likely it gives reference to a special dance ceremony that once took (or currently takes) place inside the cave.

Cultural Sensitivity. Please show reverence as you enter the cave. If you happen to stumble upon a special ceremony please maintain a respectable distance unless given special permission to do otherwise. Please note that some Okinawans during spiritual ceremonies may not like their photographs being taken.

Author's Notes.
i. Udui is slightly similar in pronunciation to its Japanese counterpart, odori (おどり,踊り).
ii. Kumiodori is a Okinawan theatrical style of dance
iii. Mura (ムラ) is the Okinawan word for village, and Ashibai or Ashibi (アシバイ or アシビ) is Okinawan meaning 'gathering'. In translation, the August Mura Ashibai means the August Village Gathering.

1. Onna Village History and Culture Publication dated March 2000, published by the Onna Village Office
2. Onna Village historical sign on locations (translated in English)

Direction. Uduigama is in close proximity to Cape Manzamo. To get to Cape Manzamo take Highway 58 to Onna Village. You will see signs directing you to Cape Manzamo (Please view the map above). Once you arrive at the Cape Manzamo parking lot, look for a sign marker to your left as seen here. It will have the name Uduigama on it. You can take your vehicle all the way to the cave, though the lane will be somewhat narrow and parking will be tight. You will see an Onna Village Office sign off to the right that gives the cave's history. Note. On the map it appears you can take another road to the cave. This entrance is actual gated off.

Other places to visit nearby. The Onna Gusuku and the Hamasaki Utaki, Cape Manzamo (Sunset).

1 comment:

  1. 3rd Recon Batallion located here in 1970's