Years ago we wrote about Shuri Castle Gardens, a virtual replica of Okinawa’s Shuri Castle. Now three years on we revisit the residents of Shuri to find that they have changed completely. Going under the name of Virtual Ryukyu, they have now built a community based around the culture the Ryukyu Kingdom of the 1400s.
Originally Richard Lavasser, known in the virtual world as his alias Inuyasha Meiji, brought Shuri Castle to virtual life through a beneficiary in 2005. It was built on the mainland sim of Butler, and began attracting virtual residents interested in Japanese history. Shuri Castle continued to grow until 2010, The current builder Angela Beaman, known as Silverfox Rainbow, joined Lavasser as assistant builder in 2007.
She states: ” I came to Butler in 2006/2007 to help Inu after he was offered extra land for the sim. We became work partners, learning from each other. When the sim closed we were researching the history of the Ryukyu Islands. We decided that we wanted to make an area dedicated to the Ryukyuian culture which was very different from mainland Japan. ”
Since the closing of the sim Butler, Virtual Ryukyu has called several sims home, including Pinehouse, Sweet and finally The Northern Forest, they even collaborated with Second Life’s Little Yoshiwara, another Japanese Roleplay sim.
Beaman comments about on what Virtual Ryukyu has to offer residents of the virtual world: “We offer a place to relax, we have a 7 seas fishing area, we have regular hunts. We also have a small shopping area and although small we are always adding to it. We just want people to come here look around and relax.”
Lavasser, the man inspired to build a virtual version of a historical Kingdom, was unfortunately not able to give us an interview.
Beaman comments: ” This place has a deep meaning to us, and even more so to Inu. Its meaning is to never give up on your dreams. We have continued today after Butler because of that reason. It is what Inu wanted. Despite everything that has happened to him, he is diabetic, legally blind, and he recently was hospitalized for heart problems and pneumonia, but he always continues doing research on Ryukyu, he continues to build and add to our village when he can. He wants to bring Ryukyu to everyone who can’t go to it. It is what keeps him going.”
Virtual Ryukyu does not only exist in one virtual space, it also exists in OpenSim. While the Second Life version aims towards the commercial side. The OpenSim version is a teaching tool about Ryukyu and its history, it is more historically accurate. It aims to be an authentic replica of the Kingdom and islands, complete with villages and Shuri Castle. Like its Second Life counter part, it was also built by Lavasser with the help of Beaman.
The following is an Interview recorded in Virtual Ryukyu in OpenSim held by the Ryukyuian team:
Youtube video by: Craig Hopper (craig.le)
Pictures by LKC & Chris C