Layout of the Community

Fukugi trees
for windbreak and tide-water control
Stone pavement of Nbufuru
The communities on Taketomi Island were formed around the 11th century. As explained in the History of the Island section, during the Muhyama period, there used to be six communities built by each of the clans, then several political movements occurred within the Island, along with the Ryukyu Dynasty, might have influenced them to form the communities you can see today. The evidence of this is; the ruins that still remain, a distribution map of On-clans that have hardly been transferred, the location of Muhyama's On, the origin of Tanedori Festival, and the other historical materials.
Because of this historical transference and unification, all the communities that used to be settled by the seashore or on the edge of cliffs, are now located mostly in the center of the island. That tells us the reasons for their location change are obviously different from the previous ones. Hazama and Nahji communities are the biggest and last two that remain. This is because there were no more conflicts among the communities under the control of Ryukyu Dynasty, and people had started living in more places where it was more comfortable for them, rather than living in places that were small and uncomfortable simply for defense issues.
Now, let's see how much effort people put into making their lives more comfortable and to make festivals and events more exciting.
Rainwater tank
and Konohazuku (Scops Owl)
Everyday routine of cleaning path and garden
Coral sand path

1. Trees/Wind-breaking trees

Big trees were planted to surround the community, and fukugi trees are planted within the gardens. These trees not only do protect the community paths and houses from daily winds and tides, but also from typhoons and Nishikaji (North Wind).

2. Water/ Water supply and drainage

People used water from wells or rainwater, since there were no mountains or rivers on the island. There were two types of wells; one was called "furi well" which is a limestone-cave-like coral cave, and the other was called "hori well" which was an artesian well. Most of them were located in the northern area of the island, due to the influence of the stratum layer that ran from Ishigaki Island to the northern area of Taketomi Island. However, these wells were not reliable enough to provide sufficient water to the inhabitants. Some had run dry due to the draught, and others contained salt. It was not until 1976, when a submarine pipe from Ishigaki Island began, that Taketomi Island was blessed island of water. Therefore, there were strict rules for using the precious water. At Shichimatsuri Festival, priests prayed (nigai) for each well that they were in charge of.
To fill the tanks in the garden with rainwater, people put a number of wooden buckets on the roof of their houses. Even today, we are able to see their remains. In addition, for drainage, each house was built higher than the roads so that all the rainwater would either flow towards the road, or be absorbed into the ground. The water that went to the road gathered together into a cavern called "abu" through water routes, and then penetrated into underground.

3. Walking/ the coral sand path

All the paths, except for a few, are paved with coral sand. There were many reasons for all this time and hard work to keep the path covered in sand (the sand was carried from beach). One of the reasons was, as explained in the "Water" section, to make water penetration better. Also when you walk o the island at night, the sand reflects the moonlight providing better sight. It also helps to find nocturnal venomous pit vipers, and, more than anything, it is an incredibly beautiful sight.
Every morning, all the paths were cleaned with a bamboo broom, which created an indescribable view.
Tohra (hut) of awaishi
a kind of a stone
Ohshi (swine toilet)
remains in a premises
A check pattern community
Island banana field surrounded
by Gukku (a stone wall)

4. Fire and wind/ Tohra, Gukku

The communities on the island where the wind is strong and wooden buildings with straw-thatched houses had to pay special attention to fire. Especially the houses that were built separately for different purposes. For instance, people built an annex, called Tohra, where they washed and cooked, meaning it required water and fire instead of doing this in the main buildings (Fuhya). The walls of the Tohra were built with awaishi (a stone) cut and piled up, while the walls of the Fuhya were built with wood.
Likewise, stonewalls called Gukku surrounded the premises and played an important part in preventing the spread of fire to the rest of the neighborhood. We can see some of the ancient wisdom from the buildings and their structures.

5. Scenery/ Construction of communities

The communities on Taketomi Island form nearly a check pattern; almost the same scale and size of houses stand uniformly. This type of construction is called "Izen style." It can often be seen in Shuri Town of Okinawa, and in other places once ruled by Ryukyu Dynasty. However, the communities of Taketomi Island don't follow this pattern exactly. It seems to have been altered from the previous organic construction style around the middle of the 16th century, and then "Izen style" was added later. This shows the process of history of how six clans called "Muhyama" have been formed into todayÅfs two communities.

6. Food/ Ohshi, Field

Not being cut out for rice cultivation, Taketomi Island was centered around farming, and most of the island became farmland around 1950s. Surrounded by Gukku, the stone wall, there were vegetable yards, and a hut called Ohshi (swine toilet). This was a space that provided a toilet and pigsty together in one place. It functioned by feeding pigs the residentsÅf excretions and leftovers, then after the pigs became big enough, they ended up on the dining table for food. This fulfilled the ecology system. However, recently, this Ohshi system has been abolished due to the sanitary issues.

Reference literature: The board of education in Taketomi-cho
The village and the house of Taketomi island
"The inspection report of the conservation plan for <Preservation Districts for Groups of Historic Buildings> in Taketomi island" 2000.3

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