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Aijo-ufumichi

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  • Japanese/Okinawan: 綾門大道 (Ayamon oomichi / Aijou ufumichi)

Aijô-ufumichi was the main grand boulevard of Shuri, the royal capital of the Ryûkyû Kingdom. It ran west from Shuri castle, starting at the castle's Shureimon, and running west past the Chûzanmon (the outermost castle gate),[1] and connecting into roads which eventually led to the kingdom's two chief ports and commercial centers, Naha and Tomari; for those coming from these towns to Shuri, Aijô-ufumichi would thus serve as the main boulevard entranceway to the palace.

The road was lined with many of the most elite structures outside of Shuri castle proper. From east to west, between Shureimon and Chûzanmon on the north side of the road, these included:

  • Usekuju, an office responsible for providing the Court with clothing, tatami mats, saddles, and numerous other items
  • Ufumi udun, a royal residence
  • Nakagusuku udun, the mansion of the Crown Prince
  • Makan dunchi, the residence & shrine of one of the Oamushirare, one of the top high priestesses of the kingdom; not directly located on the boulevard, but just around the corner

And, from east to west on the south side of the road were:

In the days of the kingdom, the road was also home to a number of major festivals and events, including an Aijô Tug of War (Aijô Ôtsuna) which took place only once per kingly reign, and horsemanship competitions known as Nma nuufu (J: uma shôbu).

Most of the buildings along Aijô-ufumichi, along with Shuri castle itself, were destroyed by shelling in 1945, but today, Tamaudun has been repaired and Shuri castle and the Shureimon have been rebuilt. Plans to rebuilt the Nakagusuku udun by 2020 are a first step towards broader plans to restore the traditional look and cultural atmosphere of the neighborhood.

References

  • Plaques on-site.
  1. The two gates were also known respectively as the "Upper" and "Lower" Aijô (J: Ayamon), that is, Wii-nu-Aijô (J: Ue no ayamon) and shimu nu aijô (J: shita no ayamon) or shimun tui (J: shita no torii), in association with the road.
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