Agari Umaai and Yonabaru Town
“Agari Umaai”, is a religious event dating back to the Ryukyu Kingdom Era. Various sacred places in Okinawa are visited during the event to pray for the prosperity of the Kingdom and a rich harvest. There are 14 sacred places related to Amami Kiyo, the God who created the Ryukyu islands.
Many people, both young and old, went on this pilgrimage. Even the king, himself, went there to pray. When the new Kikoe Oogime ascended, a ceremony was performed. The whole kingdom would celebrate during this ceremony.
In our day, people still do the Agari Umaai as a sacred ceremony, handed down from generaion to generation.
Understanding the culture of southern Okinawa is impossible without understanding the Agarii Umaii.
There are two Uganju, or places of prayer, “Udunyama” and “Uegaa”.
“Udunyama” had a Okariya, or rest area for the Kikoe Oogami during her ascendance ceremony. It’s said that a heavenly maiden used the water of Uegaa for her delivery when she came to Udunyama.
During the Agari Umaai, there are some rules that need to be followed ; “Bowing and greeting”, “Don’t disturb others, especially those who may be prayng”, “Don’t burn incense (Keep Fire Away)”, “Don’t remove anything from the religious site, even rocks or pebbles (Everything is considered sacred there)”, “Watch your step (Venomous snakes)”, “Follow the guides or managers if they are present”. Please show the proper respect for these sacred places.