Translated by MATCHA_En
Spiritual Power Of The Ryukyu Islands: The Sacred Island Of Kudaka
Written by NakaoYuki
Kudaka Island is a unique and peaceful island off the main island of Okinawa. It is known for its nature, traditions and unique culture.
Kudaka Island is located south of the main island of Okinawa. It has been called the "the island of the God" for generations.
On this island you will not find any tall buildings, only small villages surrounded by vast natural lands. Instead of the usual 'konnichiwa' the locals will greet you with a cheerful greeting in uchinaguchi, the local dialect used since ancient times. This is Kudaka Island, one of the few places where you can still feel the Ryukyu Kingdom and its culture today.
From Naha, take a 30 minute bus ride to Nanjo, the city where Sefa Utaki is located. From there take a 15 minute high-speed ferry and in no time you will be gazing at the beautiful landscape of Kudaka, an island of roughly 8km in size with about 200 habitats.
Kudaka Island has become increasingly known as a power spot in Japan in recent years. A power spot is a natural or spiritual place that is said to provide a sort of healing or energy to its visitors.
The First Island the God of the Ryukyu Descended Upon
Amamikiyo is a god originated in the Ryukyuan culture. The legend says that Kudaka Island is the place where Amamikiyo descended upon from the skies and it thus became the birthplace of the kingdom.
It used to be a compulsory for the kings of the Ryukyu Kingdom to worship Kudaka Island's gods via an annual pilgrimage, but even today, there are around thirty religious events held by the priests here every year.
The Policy of Protecting the Island's Culture and Traditions
Kudaka Island has its own unique policy concerning its land. Except only for a certain area that is nationally owned, the rest of the land is shared among the residents.
At Kudaka Island, only personal rights to use the land exist and land cannot be owned by anyone not residing on the island. In order to protect it from being exploited, this sense of community and collective appreciation and willing to preserve local cultures and traditions among the inhabitants remains very strong. For example, when a house is emptied or farmland is abandoned, the rights to use them will be returned to the island's community. Enforcing such policy is the reason why there are no deserted places on the entire island and thus the strong sense of community is always present.
A Three Hour Bike Lap!
Since it is an island lying off from the main island of Okinawa, you might imagine that beach or water-based activities are the most popular here, but this sacred island is actually a popular cycling spot. As it is mostly flat, you can fully circumnavigate this island by bicycle in about three hours. There are plenty of bike rental shops for visitors, so you needn't worry about having to bring your own with you. As soon as you board the high-speed ferry, a map of the island pointing out its highlights will be given to you.
The road signs at the island are somewhat easy to miss as they are not as recognizable as the ones in more densely populated areas. So be prepared to take it easy and enjoy the scenery instead!
The island is mainly free to visit, however there are a number of sacred areas where entry is strictly forbidden. In general, be very aware of your surroundings as entry to a sacred area could result in your being barred or escorted from the island itself. Be very careful not to cross the line when you're taking a swim!
Five Recommended Spots in Kudaka Island
1. Kaberu Headland
According to the legend this is the place where Amamikiyo descended from the skies. The spectacular scenery here almost seems to soothe you just by looking at it.
2. Fubo Mitake (Kubo Mitake)
The most sacred place in the entire Okinawa. This is one of the "Seven Mitake" in Okinawa and entrance is strictly forbidden. However, you can make your way until the entrance to feel the silent and sacred aura.
3. Udounmyā; Fukamadoun
The two big ritual sites of Kudaka Island. These are the holy spots where ritual events are still being held today.
4. Ishiki Beach
A white sand beach by the south of the island. It is rumored that it was at this beach that a vase of five cereals was found and with it started the era of agriculture in Okinawa. Since the ancient times the inhabitants have believed that an utopia named Niraikanai exists at the other side of the sea, which also makes this a place of particular importance as well.
5. Romance Road
This is one of the few fully maintained roads on the island. There are rest areas that allow the island's visitors to admire the crystal clear waters of the surrounding sea. The main island of Okinawa can be seen from the island too. Take a moment for yourself and allow the undisturbed nature of Kudaka to soothe your mind.
On Kudaka Island you don't have to worry about time; you can simply enjoy yourself in serene, natural surroundings and take time to breathe. The slow moments you spend here are to be treasured and remembered.
Cuisine on Kudaka Island
Of course, the island is home to some unique dishes. Irabu soup is a local cuisine made from sea snake. A sacred dish, it is said to be very healthy and good for your stamina.
If you would like to experience a day trip on a tropical island, with stunning natural land and seascapes, an amazing cycling course and the history of the Ryukyu Kingdom spreading out across the land, then a visit to Kudaka Island is just what you need. Come and experience ancient Okinawan culture and the warmheartedness of the locals.
Address: Okinawa, Nanjo, Chinen
High-speed ferry: 15-20 minutes from Azama Port in Nanjo City (3 trips a day)
Ferry: 50 minutes from Azama Port in Nanjo City (3 trips a day)
Price: High-speed ferry: single 760 yen, round trip 1460 yen
Ferry: single 670 yen, round trip 1280 yen
To get to Azama Port:
From Naha airport by car: To the direction of Tomigusuku-Senagajima, go down south and enter Okinawa highway at the intersection Nakama. Take off at Haebaru North IC. Turn right at National Highway 329 Highway. Go straight at Yonabaru intersection (in front of Yonabaru police station) to 331 Highway. Via the Nanjo City Sashiki, turn left onto Chinen Azama Port (there is a signboard at the entrance; the same entrance as Sun Sun Beach).
From Naha by bus: Toyo Bus no.38 at Naha bus terminal. Get off at the stop "Chinen Azama Sun Sun Beach Entrance. Walk for 5 minutes.
For details, please check the official website.