A world of tangible cultural assets to discover
In 1997, Okinawa Prefecture recognized “karate and kobujutsu” as Okinawa Prefecture Designated Intangible Cultural Assets. In Japanese, it reads Okinawa Ken Shitei Mukei Bunka Zai “Karate – Kobujutsu”. The Prefecture would later name 9 masters as asset holders (Okinawa Ken Shitei Mukei Bunka Zai “Karate – Kobujutsu” Hojisha , Hojisha meaning holder in Japanese).
Next to the undeniable intangible culture that is passed on from masters to disciples, there are also many tangible cultural assets in Okinawa that are related to karate and kobujutsu.
Here is a list of these monuments that mark the island with tangible proofs of the local karate tradition and heritage. Please take the time to read some important notices so that these cultural assets are protected as well as the local environment they stand in.
Okinawa karate related sites and monuments
1. Matsumura Sokon tomb
2. Itosu Anko stele
3. Hanashiro Chomo tomb
4. Funakoshi Gichin “Kansha no matsu” pine
5. Funakoshi Gigo “Homare no matsu” pine
6. Uchaya Udun site
7. Shikinaen no Banya (related to Matsumura Sokon)
8. Site of Okinawa Shihan Gakko
9. Meibukan monument
10. Okinawa Traditional Kobudo Museum
11. Okinawa Prefectural Dai Icchu Gakko
12. Higa Seiko Stele (added July 2013)
13. Makabe Choken tomb (added July 2013)
14. Matsuyama Park and Kuninda Monument
15. Higashionna Kanryo and Miyagi Chojun stele
16. Matsumora Kosaku stele
17. Matsumora Kosaku monument (added July 2013)
18. Furuherin cave
19. Funakoshi Gichin monument
20. Okinawa Prefecture Budokan
21. Hagukindo stele
22. Bugeido cave
23. Shorinji-ryu monument
24. Okinawa Prefecture Karate Museum
25. Okinawa (Koza) Budokan
26. Kyan Chotoku stele
27. Shinjo Heitaro monument
28. Matsumora Kosaku former retreat site
29. Uechi Kanbun birthplace site
30. Kaneshima Shinsuke stele
31. Taira Shinken gravesite and stele (added April 2014)
Information on Okinawan tombs:
There are basically two types of tombs in Okinawa: the traditional “turtleback tomb” (kameko-baka) and the contemporary style tomb. On many of them, there is a stone with the name of the family written on it. It is an integrant part of the tomb and not a monument. Such a stone is known as Sao-ishi in Japanese (also called Bosho in Okinawa).
Taking the case of Uechi sensei family grave for example, it is written from right to left “Uechi-ryu Karatedo Soke – Uechi Kei no Haka – Showa 53 nen – Kyu 11 gatsu 9 nichi – Shin 12 gatsu 8 nichi”. In English, “Uechi-ryu Karatedo head of family – Uechi Family’s Tomb – 1978 – Lunar calendar Nov. 9 – Gregorian calendar Dec. 8.”
But this is not a monument. Therefore, we didn’t include it on purpose… If you wish to visit this or any other master’s tomb, please ask your instructor.