Okinawa Tourism Information:[ContemporaryKumiodori:OyakeAkahachi—TaiyonoRan(WaroftheSun)—]:ACollaborationofFilm,Stage,andtheChildrenofYaeyamaWhoAreStandingUptoAdversity

[Contemporary Kumiodori: Oyake Akahachi
— Taiyo no Ran (War of the Sun) —]:
A Collaboration of Film, Stage, and the Children of Yaeyama Who Are Standing Up to Adversity

post : 2021.01.09 07:00

Over 500 years ago, the people of the Yaeyama Islands located 400-500km south of Okinawa Island, were facing hard times due to the heavy burden of tributes that were being collected by the royal government of the Ryukyus.

[Contemporary Kumiodori: Oyake Akahachi — Taiyo no Ran (War of the Sun) —] tells the story of Oyake Akahachi, a local hero from Ohama Village who led the islanders to stand up against the Ryukyu government.
*The production has garnered much attention and even more so with the script written by the poet of the southern islands, Daichi Hirata who hails from Kohama Island, and musician, Shinsaku Ikeda, singing and performing in the play.

(Photo Courtesy of Yaima Roman no Kai)

(Photo Courtesy of Yaima Roman no Kai)

The performers are from the group, Wing Kids Leaders, made up of local Yaeyama children from the fourth grade and up to seniors in high school. Every year, the participating children have the opportunity for great growth by learning about the local culture, and through combined efforts and shared passion in the production of the plays.

Performances have been presented consecutively for 18 years since their start in 2003, but the year 2020 was the most challenging year for the children and also for their parents, guardians, and local supporters. Yaima Roman no Kai, an association of parents and guardians, as well as local supporters got together to find a way for the children to present their performance on stage. What they came up with was a production that combined video and stage performance.
*Performance is scheduled for February 23, 2021 at the main arena of Ishigaki City Comprehensive Gymnasium. There will be a limit to the number of admissions, and appropriate measures to prevent infections will be taken.

On a slightly cloudy morning of a chilly weekend, I went to their outdoor filming location to learn about their activities. Under the tents, I found the young people putting on their makeup and costumes in preparation for the filming.

The chairman of the parents’ association (Yaima Roman no Kai), Token Miyara, says, “By combining video to the performance, we can limit the number of kids on stage, and even if by chance we’re not able to go ahead with the performance, we’ll have footage of the children’s performance which documents the hard work that these kids put into their performance.”

Plans for filming was decided in October 2020, and filming began in November. They have also started a crowdfunding project to cover the costs of the production.

(Photo Courtesy of Yaima Roman no Kai)

Fuka Maezato (senior in high school), who has been part of the stage performances for six years, says, “I’m excited and looking forward to presenting our performance in a way that we’ve never done before. I think it’s a very good thing to be filming outdoors because it makes us more conscious of all these people watching us, and that makes us really put our hearts into the performance.”

Kano Kawahara (first year in high school) with a 5-year experience on stage says, “Because I’ve been doing this for a long time, I wanted to perform even if it was going to be a small production. I want this production to be a great success because we’re doing it in a new style, getting support through crowdfunding, and all of our parents and the local people are rooting for us.”

Shota Kawakatsu (senior in high school), with a 3-year stage experience, shares, “My career is short, with only three years on stage, so I was a little anxious because it was different from our regular stage, and we weren’t able to rehearse in ways we wanted to. All that changed and my worries faded when I saw the first filming, which gave me confidence. This is the last year for me to share this time and experience with the others in the group, so I want to make the most of it and enjoy every moment.”

(Photo Courtesy of Chika Iwakura)

(Photo Courtesy of Chika Iwakura)

The kids are very engaged in their challenges for the new style of production, put together in collaboration with video and stage performances.

Just like Akahachi who gave courage to the islanders, these kids are standing up to face the difficulties of the times, and seeing them will inspire anyone and everyone.

At any time, “instead of making excuses why you can’t do something, come up with ways that you can!” Why don’t you hop on board and support these amazing kids from Wing Kids Leaders through crowdfunding?


[Contemporary Kumiodori: Oyake Akahachi — Taiyo no Ran (War of the Sun) —]
Introduction & Trailer: 

Wing Kids Leaders   


Okinawa CLIP photo writer, Akiko Ono