We started our first day with our traditional visit to Shuri and by first paying our respects at Tamaudun Royal Tombs. We begin here to represent our ancestors and ask permission to begin our visit to the birthplace of our ancestors.
Our next stop was Kwannundo which is an historic sight for us as it connects us to the story of the Edo Nobori as mentioned in the song “Nubui Kudichi”. There were so many people coming and going to offer their prayers on this day since it was the February 15th on the lunar calendar.
After some of our members got their good luck amulets, our next visit was to Shui Gusuku. We were able to see the new addition to the castle, which contained the residence of the queen and her assistants, as well as the head priestess. Continuing construction could also be seen to more additions.
After Shui Gusuku it was lunch time at Shui Dunchi. Traditional Okinawan food, such as fu-champuru, muzuku,and inamuruchi while surrounded by a beautiful Okinawa style garden and traditional atmosphere.
After lunch we had a detour in our schedule. Matayoshi Kanjeeku, who is the 7th generation of silversmith in Okinawa, invited us to visit again. He is a national living treasure for the art of Ryukyu metalwork focusing on the beautiful silver accessories of jifwa and yubiwa(hairpins and rings). It was sad though as we listened to him speak and explain to us that he is probably the last remaining true Ryukyuan silversmith as he has not been able to train an apprentice that can continue his work. He said his greatest wish is for the sound of his hammer, the art and beauty of jifwa, and the soul of what is put into this art, lives into the next generation. However, student and student has come and gone, giving up on this art which demands time, skill and dedication. Matayoshi san is 82. I put in and order for the Ryukyuan fusa yubi, and he was happy to accept and told me,”I am happy to be able to make it and leave it so that I will have something of mine left in Hawaii….but please call before you come back to pick it up later in the year, as I may note be here, but will leave instructions for someone to give it to you”.What did this mean? I asked. He said, “well, i am old and we never know when we will leave on that eternal journey. Thank you for coming today. It makes me so happy to have been able to share my words with this group and hopefully leave that to continue in their hearts..” This was so sad to hear, I didn’t know what to say,except to “please take care and see you in November!”
The visit to Matayoshi was more valuable that all the things we could have seen in the museum that was scheduled. This detour was meant to have happened ……as so many things on our tours. Sometimes we just need to listen to our hearts and follow that voice.