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History The History of Heritage Management

Why had Taketomi Island gone through the history different from other islands in Yaeyama? This question is one of the clues to explain the history of heritage management in Taketomi Island. It is possible to understand that geographic location of Taketomi Island, the experiences through the history, and the shape and size of the island had caused it to be as it is.
We can see it by the poem "
Shikita Bun" written by Nishitoh, the legendary hero of Taketomi Island, and is urging the descendants to be aware of the advantage of Taketomi Island that are stated below:
The poem says, "Taketomi Island is indeed a small island nation of coral reef floating like a tray in front of Ishigaki Island, but look! How elegant and gorgeous the island is as if a tray served in front of a royal guest! It is not only the place where government of Yaeyama first founded, but also the place when trade ships started. Islanders! I wish you to move forward without losing your pride to live in Taketomi." Even today, this poem tells us to recognize the benefit that the island locates closest to Ishigaki Island, the politically centered island of Yaeyama, to be aware that it has the history that had nurtured Nishitoh, the first governor of Yaeyama, and to collaborate each other in order to solve whatever it is to stand against us.


With such background, we are able to try to construct better environment of the island today. To unfold the process of it, it is necessary to understand a certain event; in 1896 said to be the beginning of modern period in Taketomi Island, eleven students had graduated from the school in Taketomi Island, five of them entered high school, and two of them, Matsu Uchimori and Fukuri Uema, graduated, came back and taught the students in the island. Fukuri Uema achieved a lot as a leader of the island from the middle of Meiji period through Taisho to Showa period, and he established a democratic community council called Taketomi Doshikai which later became Taketomi Public Hall.
In those days, Ryukyu Disposal and the abolishment of a poll tax, the old Federalism collapsed, and influenced by the boom of democracy, people wished the new style of government to take place of Presbyterian.
It was the time when some people whose talent and knowledge were quite matched to the need appeared and aggressively improved the society to develop the ability of self-government.
In 1949, with the Public Hall centered, they divided festivals and politic into two completely different matters and set all the countless festivals in order to reduce the workforce for them. This could mean two important things. One is that the Public Hall, used to be a traditional local organization to be able to have the power to decide what festivals to continue and what to abandon.
Second, like Tanadhui Festival, they have come to be able to concentrate on the festivals that have remained and pay much attention to keep their qualities.
As the result, in 1977, the entertainment of Tanadhui Festival has designated as Important Folk Intangible Cultural .

On the other side, in 1957, when Mr. Yoshinosuke Sotomura first visited Taketomi Island, he was surprised at that there has the spectacular natural environment and is be blessed with gorgeous scenery in which people had carried on the torch of rituals and festivals, and had developed the skill of dyeing and weaving. He leaded the inhabitants to live on with conservation and a sustainable management of their traditional culture. Not only Mr.Sotomura , but also other visitors with high consideration value highly of the island culture. Island people realized that they should be proud of their culture and it is wonderful. But all of visitors did not give good news only.

The turning point of great difficulty was that they had chosen the way to activate the island with tourism development managed by local communities before and after the returning Okinawa to Japan.
Around 1972, people suffered from water shortage, typhoon damage and so on. Then the main land capitalists bought the land haphazardly expecting the land would return to Japan so that inhabitants had no choice but to give up their houses and fields and leave the island.
That rapidly increased the rate of depopulation. Under such a circumstance, the leaders of the island took action to protest the necessity to protect the island. As the result of all the effort, learning from the advanced areas, and accepting good example for their movement, they passed "Taketomi Island Carter" in 1986, "Taketomi Town Historical Scenery Area Preservation Act" next year, it was selected as Important Traditional Constructions Preservation Area by Administration of Culture. Today, we are trying to protect the scenery of the village inherited by our ancestors as a cultural heritage, and at the same time, we learn the wisdom to live with nature and try to pass down the entertainment, festival and events.
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