Okinawa Tourism Information:AllYouCanDrinkAwamoriatWorldHeritageSite!GushikuShimautaAshibi2014

All You Can Drink Awamori at World Heritage Site! Gushiku Shimauta Ashibi 2014

post : 2014.06.24 21:00

A world heritage site, Katsuren Gusuku Jo Site, which is located in the south of Katsuren Peninsula, Uruma City, cuts a handsome figure.  It was designated as a world heritage site in 2000, and is crowded with numerous tourists every year. 

The top of the castle which sits on a small rise of land commands a panoramic view of Kin Bay, Nakagusuku Bay, and a horizontal gradation of soothing blue-greens of the sea and an endless clear sky. 

Since 2012 “Gushiku Shimauta Ashibi (Gathering at Castle for Okinawan Folk Song Festival),” where local singers in Uruma City join at Katsuren Castle Site to enjoy singing Okinawa folk songs and local awamori, for two days every year.

“Ahibi” is an Okinawan word meaning “play.”

Okinawa used to have a unique custom known as “mouashibi,” where young people would gather in fields and on beaches from evening till midnight to enjoy songs and dances while enjoying alcohol and delicious food.  And “ahibi,” which has been changed in a form called “beach party” now, is held everywhere in Okinawa in summer.

The best thing about this festival is all-you-can-drink awamori!

People come one after another with a glass in his or her hand to savor awamori provided by distilleries in the city.

This is a unique and special culture of Okinawa that everybody in the community spends time enjoying together.  I was struck again by their admirable culture.

In Uruma City, folk songs have been passed down through the ages and many well-qualified singers have been produced.  Singers based in Uruma City as well as singers from Uruma City who are active out of Okinawa gather at “Katsuren Castle Site,” a symbol of the area to perform their folk music and dance.

On the first day of the festival every year, young and promising singers perform on the stage.  Singers who performed in the past are Ayano Uema, who are around throughout Japan, Chihiro Kamiya, who has been producing from traditional folk music to a new genre of music, Sadahito China, a son of Sadao China, who is known as a producer of “Neenees,” an Okinawan folk music group, etc.

On the following day, superb folk music singers representing Uruma City appear on the stage, including Koichi Kamiya from Tauken Island, a master of Chihiro Kamiya.   When Keiko Kinjo, a leading singer by her skill in Okinawa folk music, plays the sanshin (Okinawan traditional three-stringed instrument), the beautiful sound resonates throughout the castle.  

You might naturally want to move your body to the rhythmical sound of sanshin like “Hiyamikachi-Bushi.”

Other than Okinawan folk songs, the eisa performance from Uruma City, “the home of traditional eisa” is a MUST show for the festival.  Children watch their heart-throb eisa dancers with their shining eyes.

For the finale, visitors who are high on awamori gathered the stage for kachaashii (a form of festive Okinawan folk dance).

Local people and tourists all become one to enjoy dancing “Toushin Dooi.”

In “Shimauta Asihbi,” you can fully enjoy songs and dances special to Okinawa.

As the Katsuren Castle ruins illuminated for this special day shows a different look, it is recommended to enjoy the view of Katsuren Castle in the night.

Please enjoy shimauta with flavorful awamori in your hand to the fullest.

The 3rd “Gushiku Shimauta Ashibi” (Please note: this event is over this year. Please come out next year!)

Date: Saturday, June 21 & Sunday, June 22 2014
Opens at 17:30
Starts at 18:00
Location: World Heritage Site Katsuren Castle Site
Admission Fee: 2,000 yen for advanced tickets / 2,500 yen for tickets on the day
(including all-you-can-drink awamori)
Host: Uruma City Tourism and Local Products Association
Inquiries: Uruma City Tourism and Local Products Association
TEL: 098-978-0077

Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer  Tetsumasa and Kozue Kono (monobox)