The Ryu̅kyu̅ Creation Myth
May 19, 2020

The Dawn of Ryu̅kyu̅ – until Sanzan Era
The myth about the creation of the Ryu̅kyu̅ Kingdom as recorded by Chu̅zan Seikan

The beginning of the Ryu̅kyu̅ Kingdom is written in “Kyo̅yo̅”, which means the official history of the Ryu̅kyu̅ Kingdom. Here is the translation:

At the beginning, the sea was rough, and waves were overflowing. There was no place for man to dwell. Then, a man and a woman appeared upon this wasteland. The man’s name was Shinireku (Shirumichu), and the woman’s was Amamiku (Amamichu). They moved earth and stones, planted trees, stopped the waves from overflowing, and started to live on the island. And then, utaki (an Okinawan sacred place) were built, and men began to thrive.

Afterwards, the man and the woman gave birth to three boys and two girls. The first boy was called Tensonshi and he became the first king. The second boy became the first aji (a kind of landlord similar to a Japanese daimyo) and the third boy became the first farmer. The first girl became a kimigimi or kimigami (a priestess who administers religious services within the entire kingdom), and the second girl a noro (a priestess who administers religious services in a local area). Afterwards, more and more people started inhabiting the Ryu̅kyu̅ Kingdom.

At first, people did not farm. They found their daily food by picking up wild fruit and hunting animals. Then, Amamiku brought rice seeds from the Nirai-kanai (a mythical place from which all life originates) and scattered them in Tamagusuku (this is mentioned in the Chronicals of the origin of the Ryu̅kyu̅ Kingdom). Tensonshi taught people how to farm, which marks the beginning of the agricultural activities in the Ryu̅kyu̅ Kingdom.

The Nirai-kanai, the place from where Amamiku brought rice seeds, is a paradise beyond the sea, the residence of the Gods. The relation of the Nirai-kanai and the people is also mentioned in “Omoro So̅shi”. A song about the Nirai-kanai can be found in the first volume (of the Omoro So̅shi), and another, about the creation myth, in volume ten.

Tensonshi also taught people how to make salt, vinegar, and alcohol. People learned how to make clothes from plants and trees, becoming more and more prosperous. During the Tensonshi Era, the Ryu̅kyu̅ Kingdom was divided into three parts, Kinigami, Nakagami, and Shimajiri. One aji was chosen to govern each region, bringing peace to the people.

Amamichu no haka

Shirumichu no gama

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