The Ryukyu Mura, located at On’na-son

I got on a local bus and headed for the northern part known for a beautiful beach resort. The Ryukyu Mura, located at On’na-son village 30 km north to Naha, is a theme park where you can see old houses and performances of local traditions of various islands of Ryukyu. At the festival plaza near the entrance, men in ethnic costume were performing “Eisa,” a festival attraction of dance while beating the drums. They have transferred old houses surrounded with stonewalls and fences to the park. The peaceful atmosphere made me feel as if I had wandered into a village of Ryukyu about a century ago. A pair of lions called “Shisa” perched on all the old red tile roofs of the houses. They are protector mascots against evil. It is a common sight of Okinawa to see a Shisa with a mouth open and another with a mouth shut perching on the gate pole. The one with an open mouth is male, and he is taking in luck with his mouth. The other with a closed mouth is female, and she is preventing the luck from escaping. These old houses also serve as workshops for traditional weaving and dying crafts handed down in the Ryukyu Region, and they were demonstrating and selling the works and conducting experimental courses for the visitors. As I walked along, I smelt some sweet scent floating in the air. A water buffalo was grinding a mill called “sataya”. As I had a closer look, it was sugar canes. They were making brown sugar, a specialty of Okinawa, in the ancient sugar making process.