A holy space protected by nature
It takes up to 50 minutes by car from Naha Airport. The name originated as follows: Sefa means “highest” while Utaki is a name referring to “sacred ground” determined by the Ryukyu Kingdom so that Sefa Utaki has the meaning of “the highest sacred ground”. The inauguration ceremony of the Ryukyus’ highest goddess, Kikoe-no-Okimi, was held there, and national events came also to be held there during the Ryukyu Dynasty. The Utaki had an exalted existence with light representing the future, the flora the present, and the rocks the past. There are no large buildings or objects of worship enshrined, but you will want to feel the full power of the site with all 5 senses.
The 6 holy precincts of Ibi
There are 6 holy precincts within Sefa Utaki which are collectively called Ibi that include Ufuguui, Yuinchi and Sanguui; these 3 are identical in name and structure to buildings within Shuri Castle so you can understand how important these places are. The biggest highlight is the 6th Uganju (place of worship) with 2 giant rocks supporting each other in an exquisite balance at Sanguui. Coming out from between that gap, it’s said that you will arrive in a space descended upon by the gods where you will feel that complete change.
Sefa Utaki, once forbidden to men
Sefa Utaki was once forbidden for men to enter since only women were allowed to give offerings to the gods according to Ryukyuan beliefs. Regular men could progress no further than the entrance, and the belief was held so sacred that even the King could only go partway. Currently, anyone can enter but its status as a holy place has not changed so with its quiet atmosphere, you will want to follow the basic manners of preserving the area by not disturbing the prayers of other visitors, not touching the ritual articles and walking the assigned route. Also, it is suggested that clothing that is easy to walk about in should be worn because the area around the entrance is quite difficult to traverse and there are steep slopes and steps which might be easy to slip on.