Urasoe yodore

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The inner plaza of the mausoleum, with the entrance to the earlier tombs in white, and the entrance to the tomb of Shô Nei beyond it, also on the right in this image
The outer walls of the Urasoe yôdore complex
  • Other Names: 浦添極楽山 (Urasoe gokurakuzan)
  • Japanese/Okinawan: 浦添夕凪 (Urasoe youdore)

Urasoe yôdore, located in a cave on a cliff to the northeast[1] of Urasoe castle on Okinawa, is a mausoleum housing the remains of three 13th-14th century rulers of the island, along with one king of the Kingdom of Ryûkyû separated from the others by several centuries. It is associated with Gokuraku-ji, the first Buddhist temple to be established in Ryûkyû.[2]

The mausoleum was established in 1261, during the reign of Eiso, when Okinawa was ruled by a network of local chieftains under the leadership of one head chieftain or "king," before the island was divided into three kingdoms. The mausoleum consists of three chambers cut directly into the limestone cliff, including two for entombment, and one for senkotsu[3]. Eiso and two others were entombed at Urasoe yôdore in that period, in sarcophagi of a Chinese diorite stone[1]; excavations have discovered bodies wrapped in textiles.[4] Statues of the bodhisattvas Kannon and Jizô stand inside the cave[5].

More than 300 years later, King Shô Nei requested to be buried at Urasoe and not in the Shô family royal mausoleum of Tamaudun. His reign had seen the invasion of Ryukyu by forces from Japan's Satsuma province, and the subjugation of the kingdom to Satsuma's suzerainty, and thus it is believed that he felt he had dishonored his family and his kingdom, and was not worthy of being buried with his ancestors[6].

The site was severely damaged in the 1945 Battle of Okinawa, but was restored by the Government of the Ryukyu Islands in 1955, under the supervision of Yamazato Eikichi (head of the Cultural Properties Protection Committee) and architect Nakaza Hisao.[7]


  1. 1.0 1.1 "Urasoe yôdore." Okinawa Konpakuto Jiten (沖縄コンパクト事典, "Okinawa Compact Encyclopedia"). Ryukyu Shimpo. 1 March 2003. Accessed 25 September 2009.
  2. Kenchiku kankei ryaku nenpyô (Architectural Abbreviated Chronology), gallery label, Tamaudun.[1]
  3. A key element of traditional Ryukyuan funerary ritual, in which remains are stored for a period, before the bones are later washed and more fully, properly, laid to rest.
  4. Gallery labels, Okinawa Prefectural Museum, August 2013.
  5. Shinzato, Keiji et al. Okinawa-ken no rekishi (沖縄県の歴史, "History of Okinawa Prefecture"). Tokyo: Yamakawa Publishing, 1996. p36 (Appendix).
  6. Kerr, George. Okinawa: The History of an Island People. Revised Edition. Tokyo: Tuttle Publishing, 2000. pp165-166.
  7. 「山里永吉」、『私の戦後史』, vol 2、Okinawa Times sha (1980), 101.