A symbol of ancient Japanese history carved on limestone in Okinawa

Prof. Hiroshi Nago

Teh ruins called GUSUKU in Ryukyu (Okinawa) Islands are usually considered as a kind of castle, however most of the GUSUKU have religious sanctuary called UTAKI in which people do some religious behavior. A legendary goddess AMAMIKO in Okinawa was believed to ber the constructor of the TAMA-GUSUKU castle, one of the oldest GUSUKU in Tamagusuku-village. The TAMA-GUSUKU castle has queerly carved gate by digging out of limestone of an upheaval coral reef. Teh shape of this gate is alike to GOHORA-shell (Strombus latissimus)itself and that in the form of a bracelet, which was the special symbol of political and religious power in mainland Japan especially in Kyusyu in the war time of middle-stage in the Yayoi period(about 200 BC - 50 AD). The GUSUKU should be made by a religious and political group of women named AMAMIKO who came from mainland Japan about 2000 years ago.The native people of Okinawa respected the AMAMIKO very much, and the AMAMIKO gradually had become a prototype of the goddess, this being considered to be the origin of characteristic religion in Okinawa. A chant that has been handed down orally in Okinawa shows that the people from mainland had come to Okinawa in quest of kuni-no-noasa (the peace of nation).

The GOHORA-bracelets, containing so-called "hoe blade-shaped stone" that was made of stone keeping its shape as that of the shell-bracelet, were distributed almost over Japanese Islands until about 35 AD. Therefore, the GOHORA from Okinawa was supposed to be one of the symbols of the unity among the small states of Japanese Islands for ending the wartime.

The greatest symbol of the followed new age so-called Kohun (ancient burial mounds) period was the huge tomb that was named archaeologically as "keyhole shaped mound", which was noticed to be alike to the hoe blade-shaped stone that originated from the GOROURA-shell. This suggests that Okinawa Island was once considered a kind of Utopia for the first established united nation in Japan at the early stage of the ancient burial mounds period.