Hawai‘i Herald Columnist
“Okinawa is such a beautiful place, not just the ocean and scenery and culture, but the people. I’ve been treated well and taken care of by many people here in what has become ‘My Hawai‘i.’” — Colin Sewake
I took a friend to the new Yuntanza Museum a week after it opened. The opening ceremony was held June 22 and the museum officially opened to the public the next day. General admission is ¥500 and only ¥200 for village residents. I had an annual passport made without any extra charges.
Yuntanza is the Ryukyuan name for Yomitan. The museum has three exhibition halls. Photography is allowed in most areas, except where signs are posted. Unfortunately, there are no English-language captions to explain each display, although an audio explanation is available. I didn’t use it, however.
I’ll let the pictures speak for themselves about the different displays. One interesting display was a mock-up burial tomb where you could walk inside to see what it looks like with the kotsutsubo urns placed in them.
Another feature I found interesting was the hanaui textile designs that decorated the doors. The three basic designs that are typically woven into fabric are:
- Ojibana: Triangle-shape of an open fan signaling the prosperity of having many descendants;
- Jinbana: “Jin” is “money” in Uchinaaguchi — it’s “okane” in Japanese — so the round design with a hole in the center represents financial/economic prosperity; and
- Kajimayabana: The “kazeguruma,” or “pinwheel,” is a sign of long life. Kajimaya is celebrated when one reaches the age of 97. Pinwheels are given to family and friends and the 97-year-old person is dressed up in a traditional Ryukyuan kimono and paraded around town. In the olden days, the person was lifted up on a wooden platform with four people at the corners.
These days, a top-down convertible car is used. Pinwheels are still distributed because it is said that when you get old, your mind and thoughts return to your childhood.
The museum is well worth visiting when you come to Yomitan to climb Zakimi Castle.
Colin Sewake is a keiki o ka ‘äina from Wahiawä, O‘ahu, who was assigned to Kadena Air Base in Okinawa in December 1994 to fulfill his U.S. Air Force ROTC commitment. He met his future wife, Keiko, within a month and decided to make Okinawa his permanent home. Colin retired from the Air Force and, recently from the Air Force Reserves. He now works as a customer service representative for Hotel Sun Palace Kyuyokan in Naha. Colin and Keiko have two teenaged children and make their home in Yomitan.