My main purposes of visiting Okinawa this time is to visit the World Heritage Site Sefa-utaki and Kudaka Island which is called “the island of gods.” I had enough time on this day as I was planning to stay for a night in Kudaka Island, so I decided to take time to look around Sefa-utaki in the morning and take a ferry to visit Kudaka Island in the afternoon.
Sefa-utaki is located in Nanjo City in the south of the main island of Okinawa. “Sefa” means “the highest rank,” and “utaki” means “sacred place.” Sefa-utaki is the highest sacred place in the Ryukyu Kingdom which also appears in the legend of the beginning of Ryukyu.
Sefa-utaki is not so far from Naha City (around 1 hour by bus), so together with Shuri Castle, it is one of recommended spots to visit around Naha City.
After getting off the “Sefa-utaki Iriguchi” bus stop, I bought a ticket to enter Sefa-utaki at a ticket machine installed at Nanjo City Local Products Center in front of the bus stop. The ticket fee is 300 yen for an adult.
By the way, please refer to the previous article regarding the access to Sefa-utaki from Naha City by bus.
It is around 10 minutes on foot to the entrance of Sefa-utaki from the bus stop. Restaurants and souvenir shops are lined up on the road to Sefa-utaki. It was on the end of January (the middle of winter in Japan), but the climate was very comfortable although I wore only a long-sleeve shirt.
Before entering into Sefa-utaki, visitors need to watch a three-minute video in “Midori no Yakata Sefa” located in the entrance. The video introduces Sefa-utaki, and explains about the rules and attitudes in Sefa-utaki. Watching this video reminded me that Sefa-utaki is not a sightseeing spot, but a sacred place.
I stepped into Sefa-utaki after watching the video. There is a stone monument on which “The World Heritage Site” was inscribed near the entrance.
After walking a short distance, there is an entrance to “Uroka” on the right side. The path to Uroka is off limits due to a typhoon in the past. Uroka is a well where people purified themselves before entering into Sefa-utaki during the Ryukyu Kingdom era.
Ahead, there is a place to worship Kudaka Island. You can view Kudaka Island, which is said to lead to the east paradise called “Niraikanai,” in the distance.
On the left side, there is “Ujo-guchi,” the entrance of an approach to a sacred place. Six stone incense burners placed on the side of the path represent six places of worship in Sefa-utaki.
After walking through a small path surrounded by trees, there is the first place of worship called “Ufugui.” “Ufugui” has meanings such as “large hall” or “guest room,” and it is same name as the second floor of the main building of Shuri Castle. Some people put their hands together and pray, so please be careful not to obstruct them. And also, please be careful not to walk up the stone step.
After Ufugui, walk along the path and then the path is divided into left and right. The correct route is to walk the left path first and head to “Yuinchi. “ There is a big hole which was made by a cannonball fired during the Battle of Okinawa in 1945 along the path, and the hole makes a pond.
“Yuinchi“ means “kitchen,” but it is interpreted as “the place fertility gathers and fills” as trade was flourished in the old Ryukyu Kingdom. There is a building with the same name in Shuri Castle as well.
Go back to the point where the path separates in two ways, and head to another way. Walk along the path for a while, then you will find “Shikiyodayuru and Amadayuru Jugs.” These jugs receive holy water dripping from two stalactites above.
In the path ahead, there is “Sangui,” the highlight of Sefa-utaki. Two big rocks create a magnificent triangle shape. A mysterious view which is hard to believe that it was created naturally. Sangui is a place of worship at the far end of the triangle space, and there is also a place of worship called “Chonohana” on the right side of Sangui. There are also places in Shuri Castle which have same names as these two places.
Walk through the triangle space, and on the left side you can view Kudaka Island in the distance.
There were many tourists in Sefa-utaki as I visited on Saturday, especially people gathered around Sangui and it was hard to take photos. If you want to feel the solemn atmosphere of a sacred place in silence, it may be better to visit Sefa-utaki as soon as it opens on 9:00 a.m.
After viewing Kudaka Island from Sefa-utaki, I walked back the way I came, and headed to Azama Port Ferry Terminal where the ferries for Kudaka Island depart.