Sefa Utaki, Okinawa’s most highly ranked prayer site
In Okinawa, there are many places which are called ‘Utaki’.
They can either be a vast, calming space on the outskirts of a village, or an open, lonely place in a field or forest. Although there are many various types of Utaki, they are all places of prayer and considered holy land for Okinawan people who worship their ancestors and the gods.
A well-known example of such Utaki is the “Sefa Utaki”,
the most highly ranked sacred site among the seven Utaki that appeared in the Ryukyu mythology.
At one time, it was the place of national festivals and men were originally forbidden to enter. Even the Ryukyu King was only allowed to enter halfway.
Of course, today anybody can enter and in 2000, it was registered as a world heritage site under the “Gusuku Sites and Related Properties of the Kingdom of Ryukyu”.
When visiting, it is important to be modest and respectful when praying.
There are 6 different areas to the Sefa Utaki, but the one that overwhelms people the most when they visit is the “Sangui”.
Passing through the triangle road formed by piling large rocks, the path leads to a small place of worship on a cliff that looks out over the ocean.
Looking in the direction of “Niraikanai” (※), Kudakajima Island can be seen and is worshipped as “Kami no Shima”, or “Island of the Gods”.
The white stones that are spread out all over the Sefa Utaki site are brought over especially from Kudakajima Island.
※Niraikanai is a Utopia said to be in the ocean far away to the East. People’s souls are born here and it is said to be the place where we all return. Also known as the Country of the Gods, it is also said to be the source of good harvests.
Access to Sefa Utaki
Approximately 50 minutes by car from Naha airport