Village of BUNAGAYA

The Appeal of Ogimi Village.Within the rivers and forests of our village of Ogimi nests the BUNAGAYA, which now only live here.

The “BUNAGAYA” are mysterious beings that love peace and Mother Nature, skillfully utilizing the blessings of the forest and river, and sometimes even making their presence known to us.

The rare species “BUNAGAYA”, who lived in almost all the villages of Okinawa before the start of World War II, were unable to handle the horrendous war disasters and damage to local bases, as well as the modernization that took place in rebuilding efforts after the War, and as a result left the places they once called home. In search of the last place they could live in peace at the end of the 20th century, they were attracted to Ogimi, with its bountiful nature and kind people, finally deciding to make Ogimi their new home.

We, the people of this village, have lived until this point without acknowledging a single aspect connected to war. We are very proud of the fact that this has greatly contributed to creating a peaceful international society, and we hope to continue to deliver this message both within and outside of the village going forward into the next century. We have come to realize that this is the unspoken teaching given to us by the “BUNAGAYA.”

We, the people of Ogimi village, in a show of our pride of having lived among the “BUNAGAYA” for 90 years since the establishment of the village, have resolved to continue making efforts to build a village full of peace and ample cultural flavor, while coexisting with the abundance of nature that Ogimi village provides, and as such we have declared ourselves the “Home of the ‘BUNAGAYA’.”

July 24th, 1998: Okinawa’s Ogimi Village declares itself the “Home of the ‘BUNAGAYA’”


Revitalizing the village with the help of the BUNAGAYA

In 1998, the village of Ogimi, as part of its 90th anniversary celebrations, planned a village revitalization effort through the “BUNAGAYA”, designed and finalized a BUNAGAYA mascot, and declared itself “Ogimi Village, the Home of the BUNAGAYA.”

Osamu Abe, honorary professor of the Tokyo Institute of Technology, as part of his keynote speech, stated that:

  • The reason that Ogimi village has the story of the BUNAGAYA is because the village is full of culture.
  • Spirits are able to be vibrant and active there because of its abundant nature, including the forests, rivers, and beautiful ocean.
  • The BUNAGAYA exist within the kind heart of every village member.

We have pride and confidence in the fact that we have lived in harmony with the BUNAGAYA up until now, and are currently making efforts to revitalize the village by bringing together everyone’s wisdom to help develop souvenir items, create famous sites, folktales, children’s stories, original plays, events, monuments, and more.


A grand prize winning design was selected from among 325 submissions collected from all throughout the country for its cute rather than suspicious feel, and for being the closest to how the village people themselves imagine the BUNAGAYA.

Grand Prize Winning Design
BUNAGAYA Grand Prize
Mitsuko Uezu (Shuri, Naha City, 25 years old)
【Other Top Designs】(Ranked from top down, left to right)
Yasushi Teruya (Shio-ya, Elementary School 1st year student)
Yutaka Horie (General)
Natsuki Miyagi (9 years old)
Yukie Furugen (Motobu High School 1st year student)
Ikumi Miyazato (Motobu High School 2nd year student)

The True Face of the BUNAGAYA

【Special Features of the BUNAGAYA】

  • The entire body is red, and small in size like a child’s.
  • They have long flowing red hair.
  • They can shoot out red flames, and jump around like a fire.
  • They can be seen in the mountains, rivers, and atop trees.
  • They are skilled at fishing, and eat fish and crabs (they only eat the eyes of fish).
  • They like to wrestle in Sumo style.
  • They may assist people by holding tree pieces (firewood), etc., but will not enter the village.
  • They are friendly to people, and will not hurt people of their own accord.
  • They can be driven away through prayer.

【How to become friends with a BUNAGAYA】

  • A basic aspect of the BUNAGAYA is the fact that they like the mountains, rivers, oceans, trees, land, wind, water, and animals.
  • The BUNAGAYA are part of nature itself, and so are afraid of thunder, storms, and other loud noises, so make sure not to make any loud noises yourself.
  • The BUNAGAYA have hearts as pure as can be, and so you must not play mean pranks on them or use them for personal gain (they will disappear immediately if you try to).
  • The BUNAGAYA can intuitively read people’s minds, and because they have kind hearts, it is important to approach them with an innocent mind.
  • The BUNAGAYA do not act domineeringly or put on a fierce guise, and are not particularly strong, but if you happen to meet one, you should show them a smile, or if you can, stretch out your hand for a handshake. There is no reason to feel bad for them. Doing this will allow you to become friends with them.
  • Once you become friends with the BUNAGAYA, you should get rid of any impure thoughts of malice, personal gain, trickery, and violence to enjoy truly fruitful and pure thinking. If you do so, the BUNAGAYA will not run away from you.
  • It is also fun to enjoy fishing with the BUNAGAYA, who are skilled at fishing. In addition, they might give you the fish they’ve caught to please you, so it’s also nice to enjoy a meal with them from time to time.

(Source: Kijoka Magazine)

Original Folktale: The Red-Haired BUNAGAYA

Once upon a time, a long time ago, the King of Shuri sent an official proclamation to all of the villages under his domain, ordering that “Farmers must not build big homes. Dig a hole, and use this as your dwelling.”

However, one year, old man Talmy, from Yakabi village of the Ogimi region, of all the things he could do, apparently decided one night to build himself a big house with a roof made of tiles. Rumors of this quickly reached the King’s ears.
“How insolent for a lowly farmer to disobey his King! Bring him to me immediately”, exclaimed the King.Poor old man Talmy. He was bound round and round with rope, and dragged all the way to the King.
“Speak the truth. Who was it that built the house with the tiled roof?” Please forgive me, my highness. This was the handiwork of the BUNAGAYA of the Yanbaru mountains.
Well now, just what are these BUNAGAYA you speak of? Just how on earth did they build this large house?”
It was then that old man Talmy began telling his story.

One early morning of May, when I went into the mountains of Nakayama to cut some firewood, I found a beautiful evergreen tree. As I went to cut it with my axe, I was suddenly surrounded with leaves spinning in the wind, and could not see.
What I saw before me, a figure atop the tree playing a bamboo flute with a round stomach and protruding belly button, was a red-haired naked BUNAGAYA. “Forgive me, I won’t cut down your tree, so help me find another.”
After saying this, the BUNAGAYA responded.
“Bring us crabs and shrimps, and the eyes of fish. If you do so, we will pick you out the best tree of these mountains and take it to your house.”
I collected lots of crabs, shrimps, and fish eyes, and hung them from the eaves of the tree.

One night, in the middle of the night, I was awoken to the sound of heavy steps. Looking out at the fields of my residence, I saw quite a sore sight. A great number of BUNAGAYA were working together like ants to build a house.
I was awe-struck by the amazing skill with which they built the house, erecting columns, lifting up the ridge of the roof, and laying red tile. This was the large house built by the BUNAGAYA.
“If this is true, then the BUNAGAYA are to blame. Capture them immediately,” proclaimed the king to his subjects.
In this way, old man Talmy was somehow saved.


Meeting with the BUNAGAYA

The people of Kijoka and Janagusuku are particularly inspired by the BUNAGAYA, and although they are at once afraid of them in some way, when the season of the BUNAGAYA (8th month of the old calendar) comes upon them, they build “Young Kan’ichi (tree houses) atop giant trees, “Yard Pai” (small huts) in the heart of the mountains and atop low hills, waiting inside these constructions for the appearance of the BUNAGAYA, as if they are excited for their coming. This custom was referred to as “Arami”, and was a traditional event passed down through the generations from times long past that was carried out among bustling crowds until recently (right before the War).
When I was just a child (the early days of the Taisho era), there were around 50 of these structures. When the sun would start to set behind the mountains to the west, everyone would hold their breath, watching closely in anticipation of the BUNAGAYA, said to appear from the mountains, rivers, and fields.
 It appears that “BUNAGAYA watching” from constructed huts was a custom among every area of Okinawa, but I believe that the Arami event, in its grandeur with the village as a whole, was held only within the Ogimi area, mainly within the hamlets of Kijoka and Janagusuku.

This shows that the BUNAGAYA consider the Ogimi area to be their personal sanctuary.
Considering the issue even further, I think that the beautiful kindness of the regions people also give proof to this claim.