Photos by Shoji Kudaka
Photos by Shoji Kudaka

Yomitan Village theme park brings back old views and history

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

Near Yomitan Village’s coastline, you’ll find a theme park which offers something curious to both history buffs and arts and crafts fans. At Murasaki Mura, take a walk back to Naha’s old Chinatown and see a park dedicated to Okinawa’s history and culture.

Originally constructed as a TV set for “Ryukyu no Kaze Dragon Spirit”, a historical TV drama which aired nationwide in 1993, visitors can now enjoy the traditional-style buildings reminiscent of when the Ryukyu Kingdom was invaded in 1609 by Satsuma, a feudal domain.

The TV show was set around this time, using the story of the invasion as its plotline. For viewers, the drama depicted the difficult time that the kingdom went through as its prosperity took a downturn.

Today, visitors can visit the buildings and try several arts and crafts and other activities the park has to offer.

Upon entering a large red-gated entrance, a brick-paved road and stone walls lined with many Shisa dogs above welcome visitors. The red accents of the buildings stand out and are a nod to Chinese culture’s past influence on Okinawa.

The theme park’s buildings share similarities with Shuri Castle but are dedicated to Kume Mura, a Chinatown that once sat near Naha Port.

The Tenshikan building, near the main entrance, is a replica of a building that used to accommodate Chinese delegates. Now, instead of delegates, it is mostly tourists that visit the red-tile-roofed building for Shisa dog-making, Okinawan guitar (kankara sanshin in Japanese) making and lessons, and classes on making Okinawan doughnuts, or sata-Andaggy.

Another building, Shounin Yashiki replicates what a merchant’s house would look like, and is used to exhibit arts and crafts such as miniature windmills.

Miigsuku, a stone structure on the coastline inside the park, recreates a pier that was 500 meters off the coast of Naha and thought to have functioned as a fortress to defend Naha port against pirates and later served as a place of worship for safe navigation. The iconic spot was even drawn by the artist Hokusai as part of his “Ryukyku Hyakkei” (Eight Views of Ryukyu) series of paintings.

Although Murasaki Mura’s buildings and structures may be replicas, a visit to the theme park will take you back into the era and provide a perspective of Okinawa’s rich history and a place to try many different Okinawan crafts.

Murasaki Mura
GPS COORDINATES: 26°24’26.2”N 127°43’11.5”E
HOURS: 9 a.m. – 6 p.m. (Last entry at 5 p.m.)
*Open every day
Admission: 600 yen for adults, 500 yen for middle school-aged, 400 yen for elementary school-aged.
* Free for under 6 years of age
* On-site food vendors are open regularly
* There are also animals such as bulls, horses, goats, rabbits kept on site.
Website: https://murasakimura.com/
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/murasakimura.okinawa/

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