Meet Princess Nami


We meet Princess Nami Kunigami (国頭 那美 くにがみ なみ) of the Azumi Royal Family in Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla (1974). She was played by the actress and singer Beru-Bera Lin (ベルベラリーン). The 19-year old member of the Azumi family is a descendant of the Ryukyu people (琉球民族), “an East Asian ethnic group native to the Ryukyu Islands living in the Okinawa Prefecture.”1 Nami, affectionately called by her grandfather, has a terrible vision of a terrible monster that attacks the people. Without her maiden traditional Okinawan folk song and prayer, known as “Miyarabi’s Prayer,” the guardian deity of the Okinawan kingdom and people, King Shisa, will not awake to stop the oncoming alien invader MechaGodzilla.

The character Princess Nami is right out of her island context and gives Godzilla vs MechaGodzilla its strong ties with Okinawa. Nami is the movie’s representation of the the ancient Ryukyu kingdom. In the movie’s opening, she performs at the Ryukyu dynasty ruins of the Nakagusuku Castle, home of the fictitious Azumi Castle. Like visitors would find in Okinawa, Princess Nami is performing Nakazato Bushi folk song (仲里節 ナカザトブシ) and the traditional Ryukyu dance for tourists at Azumi Castle.

The fourteenth Showa Godzilla film is set in the context of the Ocean Expo 75. Expo attendees and would have see a performer like Princess Nami when visiting cultural sights. Compare her with this Expo 75 advertisement feating a traditional Okinawan performer. Both adorn a colorful Bingata-dyed (紅型, literally “red style”) kimono. Bingata usually have “busy patterns of repeating motifs such as fish, flowers, and fauna in bright colors.” Such a kimono are worn during traditional Ryukyuan festivals and for traditional arts performances.2 Both Ryukyu dancers hold a brilliantly colored Okinawan Hanagasa (lotus flower hat).3 “The hat represents a large red flower, the blue symbolizes the sky, the silver waves, the ocean.”4 They are almost identical. That could be Nami in the ad about to walk off the page onto the movie set.

1 Wikipedia: Ryukyuan People
2 Wikipedia: Bingata