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Thursday, July 31, 2014

The Okawa Water Park, Kin Town

The Okawa Water Park

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Okawa Water Park, Kin Town

     N 26 27.246E 127 55.674

The Okawa Water Park, Kin Town

The Kin Town Water Park sits across the Okawa water spring in the Namisato district of Kin. Though the water park is somewhat small, on a hot summer day the water can be extremely enjoyable, especially for young children. Parents are welcome to partake in the fun. All ages are welcome.

Then and Now. Long ago, where the water park currently sits, stood large washbasins. Water flowed from the Okawa spring into these centralized basins where villagers would use the water for their daily needs (laundry etc.). You can see part of this area in Donn Cuson's website, Remembering Okinawa. Please also visit Michael Lynch's photo comparison of the Okawa Spring, Then and Now.

Amenities. There are some shaded areas on site. Family members may want to bring their own shade as a precaution. A bathroom and a small playground facility is on location.
Hours. There are no opening or closing hours at the park. However, water at the park does not begin to gush until about 945am. The water will turn off some time before dark.

What to Bring (Recommendations). Mats for sitting, water amusement attire (bathing suits etc.), towels, set of dry clothes, shade, sun screen, garbage bags (please pack out what you pack in).

Directions/Parking. Take Highway 329 into Kin Town. You will see signs along Highway 329 pointing you to the spring. The turn-off sits across a 'Family Mart'. Once you make the turn, follow the green asphalt road downhill. Parking is available on location.

Monday, July 14, 2014

The Nankabama Monument

The Nankabama Monument

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Nankabama Beach

     N 26 26.417E 127 50.708

Tracing the First Shō Lineage, The Nankabama Monument

The first Sho Dynasty (or Shō Dynasty) ended around 1469 at the hands of King Shō Toku, who plundered his kingdom into dire straits. He had sought a military campaign to conquer Kikai Island(1), now part of Kagoshima Prefecture(2)(3). Though, his invasion was deemed a success, there was no economic value gained from this venture and as a result, squandered the royal treasury in the process. A rebellion ensued and the King later died(1). The details of his death is not exactly clear.

The first Shō lineage is perhaps more known by its first king than the last. He was King Shō Hashi and in 1429, unified the entire Ryukyu Kingdom under one rule(1) thus making him the first King of the Ryukyus. But the distinguished Shō bloodline vanished from history with the demise of Shō Toku some 40 years later. Whatever happen to the famous lineage from there on after remains a mystery.

But there may be clues to where the remaining family members fled to.

In the Yaka district of Kin Town there is a shoreline called Nankabama Beach. The area was known for its deep sand which made it difficult for travel. Yaka village chronicles claim that family members of Shō Toku fled north after the King was overthrown. They hid in the mountains during the day and traveled under the cover of darkness. On the 7th day they reached Nankabama Beach. A monument now stands in the vicinity to mark the occasion. Where they traveled to afterwards is uncertain. It is believed they fled further north towards the Kunigami region. Author's speculation. It would seem by this written account that someone from the entourage discussed the details of the journey with someone significant in the Yaka community.

The Nankabama area, is also mentioned in two kumiodori's (Okinawan classical operas) called 'Kushi-no-Wakaaji' and 'Yagura-nu-hya' thus adding to its historical importance to the people of Yaka.(i)

i.. 'Kushi-no-Wakaaji' means 'The Young Lord of Kushi' and 'Yagura-nu-hya' is a name of a person
ii. The Second Shō lineage begin right after the demise of Shō Toku. The first king of the Second Shō Dynasty was Shō En (Kanamaru). There is no blood relationship with the First Shō Dynasty.(1)
iii. Nankabama beach area is highlighted in yellow in the map above. This is an approximation based on a graphic image from the Kin Town's Board of Education's Historical Chronicle (2012) pg 34. The northern edge of Nankabama beach is said to be an area called Kohamabaru.(4) 

1. History of an Island People, by George Kerr, Charles Tuttle Publishing Co, 2000, pg 86 (King Shō Hashi unifies the Ryukyus) , pgs 100-101 (The Fall of Shō Toku), pgs 101-104 (The Rise of Shō En)
2. Kagoshima Prefectural Website
3. Kikai Island Website
4. Kin Town Historical Chronicle, Kin Town Board of Education, Published 2012 pg 35

Directions/Parking. The Nankabama Monument Stone lies near the southern border of Kin Town in the Yaka District. The monument can be seen from Highway 329 next to the shore. It stands next to a much larger structure seen here.