Chinbei Dunchi is a large place of prayer located in the Nishime neighborhood along road 242 north from the Gushikawa area. The building is partly Okinawan style, with clay tiles covering the roof, but with a walkway with traditional stone pillars and a stone torii gate. This type of building is unique to the outer Okinawan islands. It is neither shrine (where a kami might reside) nor temple (where continued meditiation and study occurs). Instead, the Dunchi is a place where the Chinbei (high priestess) prays. The Dunchi is most often used at traditional Kume Island religious festivals, namely Tsuma and Umachii. Both festivals were tied to the harvest of rice, which was once the major way of life for most Kume Island poeple. During the Ryukyu Kingdom, the government appointed priestesses (noro
) throughout the domain. Ten noro
were placed under a Chinbei
on Kume Island.
Chinbei's Torii Gate
Chinbei's Front with traditional stone lanterns