Glimpses of the Palace of the Sea Goddess
Once upon a time,there was a fisherman named Urashima Taro, who rescued a turtle from children who were torturing it on the beach. Taro was rewarded by a visit to the Palace of the Sea Goddess, known as Ryugu Jo (Ryugu Palace), down at the bottom of the sea, because the turtle that he rescued was actually a young princess living there.
Although this story about Ryugu Jo is an ancient Japanese legend,
Even though the sun had sunk below the horizon, it was still indirectly illuminating the sky, so it was still light at the “21st Century Beach” in Nago City in Okinawa, (the modern name for the Ryukyus)
I was walking along with my second daughter, who was five years old at the time. The waves were gentle, so in the shallow part we could see to the bottom. We came upon an Akaeso (Red Lizard Fish, Synodus ulae) with a juvenile Gingameaji (Big Eye Trevally, Caranx sexfasciatus) in its mouth. Just as I was thinking I should have brought my camera, my daughter started walking toward the fish, splashing through the water and shouting, “Hey, stop that!” The Lizard Fish was so surprised that it released its prey and swam away as fast as an arrow.
Holding the still-alive Gingameaji on the palm of her hand, she told it, “Don’t get caught again.”
Once released back into the sea, I thought the lucky fish would quickly swim away, but instead, for a while it swam unsteadily round and round her as she stood by in the shallow water. I supposed it couldn’t swim straight due to the injury suffered from being bitten by the Akaeso, but my daughter interpreted its behavior differently.
“The Gingameaji is thanking me!”
Now I am really sure the origin of “Ryugu” is the Ryukyus!
44 small and heartful stories that a sea life and people of Okinawa weave,like this.
- kosaku matsukubo, May 2012
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