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Seifa Utaki 斎場御嶽

Seifa-Utaki Seifa-Utaki
Seifa-Utaki Seifa-Utaki

The birthplace of Okinawa's spiritual past

Only an hour's drive from Naha , the Chinen Peninsula feels like a different world. Find yourself at the dawn of Okinawan history at Seifa Utaki, where small places of worship mingle in harmony with the rocks and trees. There is plenty to see on and around the peninsula, including Okinawa's oldest castle ruins, densely forested hillsides and the island of Kudaka. Plan your day trip in the area around the ferry times.

The triangular rock formation known as Sangui.

Don't Miss

  • Sangui-the archway of the goddess Amamikiyo
  • The ruins of Okinawa's two oldest castles, Tamagusuku and Chinen
  • Kudaka Island—where kings worshipped

How to Get There

Take the 38 bus on the Shikiya Line headed for Shikiya from Kamiizumi, a one-minute walk from Naha Bus Terminal. Get off at Seifa Utaki Iriguchi. There are 53 stops and it takes about one hour.

By car, take Route 329 out of Naha heading east and connect to route 331. Seifa Utaki is just off Route 331 on the Chinen Peninsula. If you avoid the heavy traffic, it takes about 45 minutes.

A goddess descends

Seifa Utaki has been a sacred place to Okinawans throughout the ages.

According to the first written history of Okinawa , this is where the goddess Amamikiyo came down to Earth to give birth, going on to populate the islands with her Amamikiyo descendants.

Places of worship among the rocks at Seifa Utaki

Look out for two jars beneath two great stalactites near the Sangui formation. There are many more prayer spots to discover along the trail.

Rising from the ashes

The second oldest castle in Okinawa , Chinen Castle, is about a 3-kilometer walk from Seifa Utaki. Built more than 700 years ago, the castle is now a ruin, but a rebuilding program has been slowly bringing it back to life.

It's easy to see why the site was selected for the castle all those centuries ago. It commands a fine view of the Pacific Ocean, and of Kudaka Island about 3 kilometers out to sea.

Okinawa's oldest castle, Tamagusuku Castle, is just a 15-minute drive south on Route 331. These ruins are unrestored, which means you have to conjure up the picture of its past grandeur yourself, but there is plenty to fire your imagination.

Island fit for a goddess

According to legend, Amamikiyo created the island of Kudaka after descending to the human realm. The kings of Okinawa had to visit the island to pray to the spirits of their ancestors. Now you can retrace their pilgrimage by high-speed ferry from Chinen. Visit the Chinen Marine Leisure Center and you can take tours of the coral waters as well as a ferry to Kudaka Island.

There is a festival called Izaiho in which all of the women on the island between the ages of 30 to 69 take part as shrine maidens. However, while most traditional festivals are annual, this one only takes place in the Year of the Horse, which is once every 12 years.

Sample the specialty dish of the island, irabu, or sea snake soup, while you are there. It is said to be highly nutritious and invigorating.

* The information on this page may be subject to change due to COVID-19.

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