We drove down to Naha on January 3rd in hopes of seeing the Shuri Castle New Year’s Banquet ceremony, a reenactment of the Ryukyu era New Years celebrations. But sadly I didn’t do enough research and when we arrived we realized that this ceremony only happens on January 1st and 2nd. However we were able to see some traditional Ryukyu performances done by students for free! So it wasn’t a complete waste of a drive.
On our way out to the parking garage I realized that this was the perfect opportunity to visit the Kinjo stone-paved road, which is only a short 7 min drive from Shuri Castle!
**BEWARE if you do follow the Google Maps directions from Shuri Castle… once it asks you to do a sharp left turn… you will LITERALLY be driving down the actual 500 year old road!!!! We realized it too late and there is no room to turn around. We almost lost our bumper, so I would suggest finding parking up there or finding another way down and then walking up.**
Anywho.. the Madamamichi stone-paved road, made of Ryukyu limestone, was built in the 16th century and used for military, and emergency purposes. It stretched from the main building of Shuri Castle towards what is Naha Wharf today. While a large portion of the road was destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa, these 300 meters remain. It’s so crazy to walk on such a historical piece of road, 5 centuries after it was built.t
This is a traditional Japanese New Years decoration called kadomatsu, which is placed in pairs in front of homes to welcome the kami or ancestral spirits. It is a landmark for the Shinto (indigenous religion of Japan) deity Toshigami-sama, to enter your home. It is believed that Toshigami-sama comes to visit each family on New Year’s day, in order to bring them happiness. However, the deity only visits when he is invited. The kadomatsu decorations take on the role of sign at an entrance to welcome the deity.
Over the top of the entryway there is also a shime-nawa, a sacred rice straw decoration used in front doors of houses and businesses during the New Year holidays. It marks a boundary between this and the world where the gods live, and hanging it on the door also means welcoming the gods from the other world, as well as keeping out evil.
We almost had dinner at this Soba restaurant.. and now i’m wishing we had!!
One last look up the 500 year old road before going home!
Kinjo Stone-paved Road
1-2, Shuri Kinjocho,
Naha-City, Okinawa Prefecture, 903-0815