Okinawa Tourism Information:EisaTourduringOboninOkinawa

Eisa Tour during Obon in Okinawa

post : 2017.09.13 18:00



In Okinawa, most people celebrate Obon by following Chinese calendar 【July 13th (Unkee, the first day), 14th (Nakabi or Nakanuhii, the second day), and 15th (Uukui, the third day) in Chinese calendar】. This year, Obon was held on September 3rd (Sun), 4th (Mon), and 5th (Tue). “The seasonal tradition of Obon nights” in Okinawa is definitely “Eisa.”

Eisa is one of the Okinawan Obon dance. Dancers dance Eisa, march throughout areas (Michi junee), commemorate each family’s ancestors’ spirits, and pray for good health and safety of families. Eisa is mainly danced by young people in youth associations from each area, and it is performed almost just around the same time. When you visit Central or Southern Okinawa where Eisa is very popular, you might hear the sound of drums here and there. However, most of you might not able to figure out where and when to go to see Eisa, so I will report the route that I took this year for your reference. 

There was a heavy rain with thunder on Unke this year, so I decided not to go see Eisa on this day and made an action from Nakabi. Speaking of Eisa on Nahabi, “Kyan Eisa” in Itoman City is famous. However, it was cancelled last year due to a lack of dancers. This year, Kyan Eisa made a comeback with the help of alumnus! Local people who were looking forward to this moment and many fans from in and out of Okinawa showed up to see the performance. Part 1 had started from 20:30 this year (2 parts for total), and the energetic performance attracted the audience! 




There was a heavy rain with thunder on Unke this year, so I decided not to go see Eisa on this day and made an action from Nakabi. Speaking of Eisa on Nahabi, “Kyan Eisa” in Itoman City is famous. However, it was cancelled last year due to a lack of dancers. This year, Kyan Eisa made a comeback with the help of alumnus! Local people who were looking forward to this moment and many fans from in and out of Okinawa showed up to see the performance. Part 1 had started from 20:30 this year (2 parts for total), and the energetic performance attracted the audience!



Also, it is recommended to see the performance by youth associations in Okinawa City. On Nakabi, youth associations from each area get together at a farmer’s market (near Ageda Crossing) around 24:00 and dance Eisa. This year, associations from Goeku, Kamara, Higashi, Murokawa, and Teruya gathered and danced. The performance transforms to “Gaaee” (Eisa dance battle) depending on the situation of the night, and it is one of the must-see parts of the performance. 



Finally, Uukui (the last day of Obon) is the most energetic day to dance Eisa! Not only Okinawa City and Chatan Town, the meccas of Eisa, but also Eisa in Uruma City is also recommended. The dance performance takes place at Kamiyā (which enshrine ancestors of the area) in Heshikiya area. Dancers from 2 youth associations (East and West) start dancing around 18:00 to dedicate their performance to ancestors. Dancers drum paranku (small drum) by using thin sticks horizontally. They dress in the traditional dark blue costumes and dance barefoot. Melody of the songs is very slow, and the way dance Eisa is beautiful and perfect. 



Also, Eisa by Yakena Youth Association in Uruma City is famous. Actually, the members of Yakena Youth Association taught Eisa to the members of Kyan Youth Association in Itoman City. Since roads in Yakena area are narrow, it is very hard to find a spot to see the performance. I happened to know that the performance would take place at a convenience store near King Tacos between 22:00 – 23:00, so I was able to see the performance. Its energetic and sharp move was very attractive. 



If you have enough time, it is good to cross Kaichu-doro to see Eisa in Higa area on Hamahiga Island. It is believed that Higa Eisa is the origin of Yakena Eisa. Around 24:00, young people, adults, and children gather at a square near a port, and then Eisa starts. Lanterns are decorated at the square, and big drums are placed there. Dancers perform Eisa in the center of the square while changing the formation. The view seemed nostalgic, and the sounds of drums and heshi (refrain) made me feel my “spiritual home.”

When Obon is over, you might think you have no more chances to see Eisa. However, you still do have more chances to see Eisa! “The 62th Okinawa Zento Eisa Matsuri” will take place this weekend in Okinawa City, and you can see performances by youth associations from Okinawa City and other areas all at once. Also, “the 12th Uruma City Eisa Matsuri” will be held from September 22nd (Fri) – 24th (Sun), and everybody can see unique Eisa of each area (Gushikawa, Ishikawa, Yonashiro, and Katsuren areas). Do you want to check both events to see Eisa?

 

“The 62th Okinawa Zento Eisa Matsuri”

September 15 (Fri) 19:00-21:00 (the 1st day)
September 16 (Sat) 15:00-21:00 (the 2nd day)
September 17 (Sun) 15:00-21:00 (the 3rd day)
http://zentoeisa.com/english-info.html
 


“The 12th Uruma City Eisa Matsuri”

September 22 (Fri) 18:40-20:50 (the 1st day)
September 23 (Sat) 16:00-21:00 (the 2nd day)
September 24 (Sun) 16:00-21:00 (the 3rd day)


Okinawa CLIP photo writer Hiroshi Kuwamura 

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