A marketer’s look at the history of “the year’s first sunrise”
From a marketer’s perspective, the trend of enjoying “the year’s first sunrise” has its origins in the Edo period.
Three-hundred years ago, around the year 1720, Edo became a city with a population exceeding one million. In particular, Mount Atago in the Shiba Takanawa area and the Kanda Yushima area were the two major attractions in Edo for “the year’s first sunrise.”
In other words, the tradition has origins similar to that of Ehomaki, the uncut sushi roll that is now eaten on the Setsubun holiday. The Ehomaki was created by Seven-Eleven (or, to be more exact, was first created as “Osaka Sushi” in 1932 and then revived).
Practices that worshipped the sun had existed in Japan since ancient times. People worshiped the sun because it caused crops to grow. However, for the purposes of national unification, those in power at the time unified the many sun gods that had existed into a single sun god.
Okinawa is no exception. During the era of the Ryukyu Kingdom (capital: Shuri, lasting 450 years from 1429-1879), the sun god Teida was the supreme deity and the foundation of the religion. The King of Ryukyu was worshipped as the child of the sun.
The people believed that there was a hole in the east from which the sun rose. The region beyond that hole was thought to be holy. The region in the opposite and western direction was thought to be one of death and was to be avoided. Burials during the Ryukyu Kingdom era took place on cliffs and caves to the west.
Looking from Shuri, directly below the horizon line where the sun rises, one can see Tamagusuku (the planned construction site for Speedy Resorts). Tamagusuku was believed to be a sacred place. Kudaka Island, which, from Tamagusuku, can be seen rising from the sea, was considered to be the most sacred place in the Ryukyu Kingdom. The Kubo-Utaki sacred site, which is located in the center of Kudaka Island, was considered to be that very sacred hole from which the sun rose. Since that time, Kudaka Island has been considered the most sacred place in Okinawa.
Approaching 2021 while in such a sacred place fills one with the feeling that the world will experience a V-shaped recovery!