The Kunigami of Japan are made up of seven closely related people groups living in the Ryukyu Islands. This small chain of islands, which includes Okinawa, is located to the southwest of Japan, between Kyushu (the southern tip of Japan) and northeastern Taiwan. The Ryukyuan peoples are of Japanese and southeast Asian descent. Long ago, the Ryukyuan lived as independent merchants who sailed to China, Japan, and other Asian seaports. During the early 1400s the Ryukyuan had their own kingdom. Unfortunately for them, there were powerful empires in nearby China and Japan, both of which had an interest in taking control of their island kingdom. The Japanese were more adept at taking these nearby islands, and the process of making them more Japanese began. Their languages vary from island to island and their dialects from village to village. Although their dialects are all quite similar to Japanese, these people groups are not able to understand one another. All of their languages, including Miyako, spoken by the Ryukyuan people, are being replaced by standard Japanese.
Ryukyuan people live mainly in these southern islands, but also in mainland Japan, Hawaii, and Brazil. Many of them identify first with their island home, and secondly with the nation state we call Japan.
The Ryukyuan had their own traditional shamanistic religion where women were the shamans. In the 1920s they endured a time when Shintoism and Buddhism vied for prominence in their land. Like the Japanese, the Ryukyuan people today adhere to a mixture of both of these religions. They mix these two with shamanism, but the younger generation does not seriously practice their ancient ways.
The Ryukyu and other Kunigami peoples need the self-respect that comes from a relationship with the King of kings. They need to know they have much worth in the eyes of their maker.
* Scripture Prayers for the Miyako, Ryukyuan in Japan.
Pray for the Lord to somehow get through to Ryukyu elders so they can open the door to allow the King of kings to enter their lives.
There are believers among some of the Ryukyu people. Pray they will take Christ to the others.
Pray for a movement to Christ among the Ryukyu people.
|Profile Source: Joshua Project|
|People Name General||Miyako, Ryukyuan|
|People Name in Country||Miyako, Ryukyuan|
|Natural Name||Miyako Ryukyuan|
|Population this Country||66,000|
|Population all Countries||66,000|
|Progress Scale||1 ●|
|Frontier People Group||No|
|GSEC||4 (per PeopleGroups.org)|
|Pioneer Workers Needed||1|
|Alternate Names||Irabu-Jima; Miyako; Okinawan; Ryukyuan, Southern; Southern Ryukyuan|
|National Bible Society||Website|
|Persecution Rank||Not ranked|
|Location in Country||Southern Okinawa; Miyako, Ogami, Ikema, Kurima, Irabu, Tarama, Minna islands. Source: Ethnologue 2016|
|Major Religion ▲||Percent|
|Christianity (Evangelical 0.51 %)||
|Other / Small||
|Christian Segments ▲||Percent|