Shurijo Castle Park New Year’s 2010 (Part I)

I went to Shurijo Castle Park to see the New Year’s Celebration on January 2.

This traditional “New Year’s Ceremony” was originally held early in the morning of New Year’s Day in the Ryukyu Dynasty.  The Ryukyu King, royal princes, aji local chieftains, sanshikan three ministers, the other royal government officials attended this solemn Chinese-style ritual conducted in Chinese language.   

“Shurijo Castle Park New Year’s Celebration” is a re-enactment of this event and established in three parts.  


In Lower Courtyard, ladies wearing Ryukyu kimono offer visitors hot jasmine tea and amazake fermented rice drink (nonalcoholic).  

shuri castle, shirozake, rice wine


8:25 to 8:30 Opening of the Gate Ceremony (Ukejo)


5 minutes before the opening Shurijo Castle Park, in front of the Hoshinmon Gate, the entrance to the State Hall, the staff welcomes visitors, beating gongs and shouting “ukejo.” 

shurijyo gate, naha okinawa  shurijyo festival, castle in japan  opening ceremony, shurijyo new year


When you go into the Una forecourt, you can see an alter. How flamboyant it is!  Before New Year’s Ceremony starts, why don’t I take a picture of it up close?  Click!

 new year's decoration

8:30 to 8:50 Uzagaku Live Classical Music Performance

Uzagaku is a kind of chamber music from the Ryukyu Kingdom and included Ming and Qing vocal and instrumental music. Uzagaku was performed to entertain Chinese investiture envoys visiting Shuri Castle and when Ryukyuan missions went up to Edo to dispatch “Keigashi” envoys to congratulate the enthronement of Shogun Tokugawa and “Shaonshi” envoys to pay respects for the enthronement of Ryukyuan king.  

gagaku, okinawa music

New Year’s Ceremony (Chohai Okishiki)


10:00 to 10:25 Part 1 “Ninufanuunufe”

This ritual is to pray to the gods, celebrate new year, and pray for peace.  The Ryukyu King and royal family, high-ranking officials and ministers as well as local community leaders attended this national ceremony.  


All the officials clap their hands in prayer toward the King and the Queen in the State Hall, bowing their heads.  

new year's ceremony in Okinawa


Uzagaku blares through the forecourt as the King and the Queen appear.  

king of okinawa

king and queen, naha okinawa, ryukyu kingdom  ryukyu kingdom, king of okinawa  parade of king, ryukyu new year festival


In front of an alter set in front of the Hokuden, the King and his officers light incense and make an obeisance in a northern direction toward the Imperial Palace in Beijing. Everybody picks up on lead of Chagushi (chief clerk) shouting “Wan Sui!,” which is a Chinese language meaning “Hail to you! (banzai!)”

ryukyu shinsyun no utage

The King goes back to the State Hall after lighting incense three times.

shinsyun, new years of japan

To be continued.....

Kumiko Teruya is a profesional Japanese / English Tour Guide in Okinawa Japan 

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I had also went to Shurijo

I had also went to Shurijo Castle Park New Year’s 2010 and it was really a amazing experience for me, I was there with my family and I liked the culture and tradition of that city.

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