Ginowan-udun tomb

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The Ginowan-udun tomb

The Ginowan-udun tomb is a large Okinawan tomb in Sueyoshi Park, in Naha, Okinawa. Constructed in the early 18th century, it is an example of the oldest extant style of turtleback tombs (J: kamekô baka, kikkô baka, O: kaami nu kuu baka). Always a royal tomb, in the 19th century, it became the burial site of the Ginowan-udun line of royal princes, namely King Shô Tai's second son Shô In, and Shô In's descendants.

Turtleback tombs only first began to be constructed in the 17th century. One of the defining features of this earlier form, evident in the Ginowan-udun tomb, is a gentler curve of the front section of the tomb's roof, a section known as the mayu (brow, O: mayu). The high rank of those interred is represented in part by the number of stone walls to either side of the tomb, known as sode (sleeves, O: sudi). At the Ginowan-udun tomb, there are three such walls nested up against one another, where most tombs would have one. The hinpun (a stone wall protecting the entrance to the tomb from foul winds) is also quite high, and with only narrow entryways to either side; when someone was to be interred here, the coffin would have had to be raised high to get over the hinpun, a representation again of the deceased's high rank, and also of the desire to make it difficult for one to pass out of the world of the living.

The tomb alone is quite large, but the surrounding area considered part of the associated graveyard covers about 4000 tsubo of land area (about 12,000 m2, or three acres), including ruins of guard houses, and a cobblestone path.


  • Plaques on-site.[1]