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A Feng Shui landscape and Tree Planting with explanation based on Feng Shui Diaries: A case study of Mainland Okinawa, Japan

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image of Worldviews: Global Religions, Culture, and Ecology

High mountains in back and facing the sea is an ideal Feng Shui village landscape in Okinawa. Such a location is perfect for semi-agricultural and semi-fishing production.

When and how a Feng Shui village came into being is still a myth to the historians. The only complete records of Feng Shui village inspections of Inamine and its close neighbor, Makija hamlets, by Feng Shui masters from 1857 to 1888 exist there. These items of literature allow us to have a rough look at Feng Shui layout in then early-modern Ryukyu. On basis of Feng Shui diaries and remnant huge Fukugi trees, this study aims to clarify the settlement and the development process of Feng Shui village landscape in Okinawa.

Tree planting has been highlighted in these Feng Shui diaries. Utakis, the local sacred places usually covered with lush forests, are the primary concern of village Feng Shui. Dense forests were required to be planted on the Feng Shui sites, a spot or an area of significance to the whole village Feng Shui. Tree planting around the houses, along the coastline, and even along rivers has effectively protected the village houses and paddy fields from strong winds. All remnant huge Fukugi trees older than 200 years were found in Muranaha, the hamlet center and also the oldest part of Inamine hamlet. About 14 big trees were standing in village Ho:go, among which 13 were on the coastline. Ho:go is a particular Feng Shui word in Okinawa, literally means embraced protection. Ho:go is also used to refer to forest belts that surround a house, a village or coastline. It is assumed that Ho:go might have been recommended by the central government around 1737-1750 in Okinawa. The biggest tree found in Inamine is estimated to be around 298 years old. From the remnant trees, a number of houses in Inamine might have existed early to 300 years ago. It might have been considered as an administrative hamlet by the central government around 1751, with the planting of village Ho:go. The oldest houses were first built in the center and, with the population increase, later spread to the surrounding areas.

Affiliations: 1: United Nations University–Institute of Advanced Studies Operating Unit, 2-1-1 Hirosaka, Kanazawa, Ishikawa Prefecture 920-0962, Japan; 2: Faculty of Agriculture, University of the Ryukyus, 1 Senbaru, Nishihara, Okinawa Prefecture 903-0213, Japan


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