A fascinating insight by Gretchen Leonhardt Richard


Updated on December 7, 2014

The Ryukyuans have a legend that refers to the Other Realm, an island paradise, which they call Nirai Kanai (ニライカナイ) [Atsushi]. The orientation of this paradise depends upon the cultural source of the legend and is, alternately, east or west across the ocean. Nirai Kanai is the source of life, fertility, and wealth [“Nirai”]; of grain (especially rice); of both good and bad fortune [Atsushi]; and of the sun as well as of fire [Kunio 1950:239]. Most importantly, Nirai Kanai–or Neriya Kanaya [“Wind”] and Niruya Kanaya [Atsushi]–is the place from which the Okinawans originated [Reichl 62]. Observes Perez [1998: 2], “Third- and fourth-generation city dwellers, when asked where they are “from”, still name the furasato (“old home”) of their ancestors. . . . [T]he Japanese think of themselves as members of an ancient village.”

Between 1918 and 1919 CE, Stephen Xanthoudidis excavated a two-storeyed…

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