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Lunar New Year’s celebration in Itoman City
post : 2016.11.18 08:00
People in Okinawa traditionally celebrate (Kyushogatsu) Lunar New Year. This is in accordance with lunar calendar – the way it is done in Taiwan and Korea. During the celebration period, many special foods are available at stores or markets to celebrate Lunar New Years day. Recently, people have started getting used to celebrating New Years according to the western calendar as they do in the rest of Japan, so schools and offices are not even closed.
Itoman City follows the old ways and traditions even today. Itoman is a town of fishermen. People there not only follow the old calendar but look at the moon to choose the best days and methods for fishing and farming.
In Itoman, they begin by celebrating Kyushogatsu. The Itoman Haarii (boat race) is held on May 4th and Itoman Tug-of-War on August 15th. Those events all follow the lunar calendar
Lunar New Year’s day in 2016 was February 8th. Many fishing boats decorated with flags could be seen on that day at Itoman Port. Fishermen wish for good catches for the year. And nobody fishes on New Year's day.
A market near the port starts selling lots of New Year’s food from the previous day. It's all colorful and very festive. New Year’s Eve is called Toshinuyuruu in the Okinawan dialect.
Hakugindo, the shrine in Itoman fills with people wishing for a great year during New Year’s celebration period. “Young people don’t come anymore because they are busy for studying or working,”said one elderly lady there. “If schools and offices are all closed like standard New Year’s celebration periods on the mainland, people should take better care of traditions in Okinawa.” It would be a nice experience to spend time here during the Lunar New Year’s period.
Okinawa CLIP photo writer: Hiroshi Kuwamura