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Chokotei

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  • Built: 1452
  • Japanese: 長虹堤 (Choukoutei)

The Chôkôtei (lit. "Long Rainbow Embankment") was a one-kilometer-long[1] set of seven stone bridges which connected the Okinawan "mainland" at the port of Tomari (a district of Naha), with the rest of Naha, the chief port of the Ryûkyû Kingdom, which at that time was situated on a small island called Ukishima, just offshore. The embankment began at Azato-bashi (now called Sôgenji-bashi), in front of the Zen temple of Sôgen-ji, and ended at Matsuoyama (O: Maachuu-yama, now Matsuyama Park), in Kumemura.[2]

The embankment, designed by Kaiki, was built in 1452, in preparation for the arrival of Chinese investiture envoys for the investiture ceremony of Shô Kinpuku. It came to be called "Chôkôtei" after a Chinese envoy, either Du Sance or Hu Jing wrote a poem in 1633, saying it looked like a rainbow when viewed from afar.[3]

It was one of the sights featured in the few woodblock printed images in Chou Huang's 1757 "Brief History of the Ryukyu Kingdom" (Liuqiu-guo zhilue), and in Hokusai's 1832 print series "Eight Views of Ryûkyû" (Ryûkyû hakkei). In both, the image was titled Chôkô shûsei, which has been translated as "Clear Autumn Weather at Chôkô."

Though a major thoroughfare throughout the time of the Ryûkyû Kingdom, the Chôkôtei saw dramatically diminished use in the early 20th century, as a train line connected Shuri and Naha via the bridge at Tomari Takahashi from 1911-1933, and as a new prefectural road (later renamed Kokusai-dôri) was completed in 1934. The Battle of Okinawa, along with construction and reconstruction in the latter 20th century, destroyed much of the Chôkôtei; in particular, as landfill was used to fill in the water separating Naha from Shuri, the Chôkôtei disappeared. Some sections of road, however, still follow along its path, winding alongside the Kumoji River.

Stonework in the sidewalk near Miebashi Station in Naha, depicting the Chôkôtei, in an image adapted from Hokusai's Ryûkyû Hakkei.

References

  • "Chôkôtei." Okinawa konpakuto jiten (沖縄コンパクト事典, "Okinawa Compact Encyclopedia"). Ryukyu Shimpo (琉球新報). 1 March 2003. Accessed 23 November 2009.
  • Plaque at Miebashi Station, Naha.
  1. Uezato Takashi. "The Formation of the Port City of Naha in Ryukyu and the World of Maritime Asia: From the Perspective of a Japanese Network." Acta Asiatica 95 (2008). p61.
  2. Plaques on-site in Kume district, Naha.[1]
  3. Hokama Masaaki 外間政明。”Nahakō no seiritsu to sono kinō iji” 那覇港の成立とその機能維持。Shimatati しまたてぃ 13. Okinawa Shimatate Kyōkai 沖縄しまたて協会。July 2000. p7.; Plaques on-site in Kume district, Naha.[2]
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