Okinawa Legend - Kajimaya
January 19, 2020

A long time ago, there was a tree that reached high into the sky. One day, the Sky God came to the earth next to the tree and saw that the ground was a soft clay, good for making things. "Oh, this is excellent clay.", he exclaimed. "I can make the humans I've always dreamed of out of this."

So the Sky God began to mold six human figures, three men and three women, out of the clay. It was almost evening when he finished. "Now it is too dark to give life to my humans. I will do it tomorrow when the sun rises and the tide comes in."

The next morning the Sky God came back down to earth and found his six clay figures had been broken into pieces.

"Oh no! Who has done such a horrible thing?" He cried out. "Now I have to make them all over again."

The Sky God made six more clay figures. It was evening by the time he finished and he decided again to wait until the next morning to give life to his humans. He went to his home in the sky and rested.

The next day, the Sky God came back to earth and once again found his work in pieces. He got very angry and decided to stay and watch all night to find out who would do such a horrible thing. So he made six more clay figures and waited. Around midnight, a bright light burst from the earth as the ground split in half. The Earth God appeared, grabbed the clay figures and started to break them.

"No, no! Stop!" the Sky God yelled. "Wait, wait! What are you doing to my work?" The Earth God looked at the Sky God and said, "So you are the one who made these clay figures without my permission."

Because he was being questioned about permission, the Sky God was hesitant to argue.

"Alright, I admit it was my fault for not asking your permission first," he said. "It was my idea to make these clay figures, then give life to them as human beings. I am truly sorry I did not ask your permission. However, I'd like to now ask for your permission to use your wonderful clay to finish my work and let my humans live for 100 years."

The Sky God humbly begged and finally the Earth God gave him permission. The Sky God created six new human figures and the next morning gave life to them. The six were paired off to become three couples and this was the beginning of human life.

The humans lived their lives happily and the Sky God was very pleased to see the number of humans grow. So it was, that 97 years passed. There were now all kinds of human men and women -- young and old. The Earth God paid a visit to the Sky God.

"It is now time for you to return my clay to me." the Earth God said.

"But, 100 years have not yet passed." replied the Sky God.

"Ah, but there were three leap years that brought the calendar ahead to 100 years today. I have a duty to report to the almighty God about this contract and you must return the clay to me now."

"Alright, I understand your duty." said the Sky God. "However, you can see that these humans are children, adults, and elderly, and also some newborns. You surely can't say they all have been living for 100 years. It's not reasonable to claim the 100-year term for all of them, now is it?"

The argument went on and on between the two gods. After many hours, they finally agreed to give those who lived to 97 years some more time. The solution was simple: To let the humans live longer than 97 years, they should celebrate as if they were newborn babies on their 97th birthday. Then there would be no problem with the contract. Both gods felt this would be a good way to let the almighty God accept the "new" human life. This is when "kajimaya" began -- those at the age of 97 confirm the agreement between the Sky God and the Earth God and also to the almighty God for their new life on earth.

Note: To this day in Okinawa, when people reach age 60, it is called "kanreki", the beginning of happy old age. At 88 it's called "toukachi" to celebrate the maturity of old age. Then, at 97 people celebrate like they were newly born by carrying a handmade paper windmill in a parade through the village.

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