Okinawa Tourism Information:CharmsofTraditionalEisaSeenin“UrumaCityEisaFestival”!

Charms of Traditional Eisa Seen in “Uruma City Eisa Festival”!

post : 2014.09.08 12:00

Speaking of the traditional eisa, Uruma City is very famous for that!
Including the Heshikiya Eisa, the Yakena Eisa, each community in the city has an attractive traditional eisa.

On the pre-festival night, I could enjoy myself watching the performance by “The Heshikiya Eisa Preservation Association,” to which the veteran dancers belong, and the classical performance of Ishikawa Eisa.

Not only eisa performances by the youth associations and the veteran dancers, but also the performance by small kindergarten pupils entertains you.

Even more surprisingly, the 3-year-olds and 4-year-olds dance traditional eisa dances called “Kokkei Odori” in Henna and “Touzai Nanboku” in Yakena seriously. 

The Heshikiya Children’s Association also dance the same eisa as The Heshikiya Youth Association.
As may be expected of “Home of Traditional Eisa,” Uruma City has been passing down their traditional eisa for generations.

Originally eisa is performed locally as an event during Old Bon (July 13 to 15 of the lunar calendar), so we can hardly see all the eisa performances from each community at once.

All the local eisa performances from Yokatsu District (Katsuren and Yonashiro), Gushikawa District, and Ishikawa District can be appreciated at “The Uruma City Eisa Festival.” This is a big event that attracts as many as about 36,000 spectators.

As dancers called “niiseetaa (young people)” just finished the busy Old Bon event, they enjoyed the feeling of freedom and purely satisfied themselves with their stage performance of “festival.” 
(This year’s “The Uruma City Eisa Festival” was held for 3 days from August 22 to 24.)

This is the eisa performance by “The Henna Youth Association,” which is famous for their “Kokkei Odori.”  Just like “The Heshikiya Eisa” of the same Yokatsu District, they use paarankuu (the smallest hand-carried drum) and they dance slower than the Heshikiya group.  You cannot miss a beautifully changing formation by dancers.

In addition, Female hand dancers wear unique-shaped hoods.  On top of that, their lovely smiles and high-spirited performance makes me feel like I am falling in love with them.

 “The Yonashiro Youth Association” of the same Yokatsu District performs characteristic, fascinating eisa.

Their way to hold sticks are somewhat different from how the Heshikiya group does, but it can be fun to compare the small difference.

On the other hand, “The Akano Youth Association” also uses the paarankuu but shows a different style of eisa dance. 
(Also famous eisa dances by the Yakena group and the Higa group, which did not participate it this year, seem to have the same root as the Akano group.)

The eisa by The Akano group is characterized by how beautifully dancers made formation and how elegantly the formation changes. When you look down upon the formation in the stands, it can be clearly seen and is more enjoyable.
(Admission is free even for the stands at “The Uruma City Eisa Festival.”)

The eisa of “The Henza Youth Association” uniquely developed the Akano eisa style into their own style. 
Odaiko (Large Barrel Drum) dancers beat their drums while twirling sticks, which cannot be seen in other eisa performances.

And the most representative eisa in Uruma City is of course the eisa by “The Heshikiya Youth Association.”
This year The Heshikiya Youth Association (East Side) performed on the first day of the festival and The Heshikiya Youth Association (West Side) showed the last performance of the final day.

Their tight performance, how skillfully they use sticks, and how beautifully they make steps are very artistic.  It was kind of an out-of-body experience and just beyond thrilling.

Next year “The Uruma City Eisa Festival” will celebrate its 10th anniversary.  Please enjoy the authentic eisa live performance in “Uruma City, Home of Traditional Eisa”!

*Official Website for Uruma City Eisa Festival:
http://www.city.uruma.lg.jp/6/5165.html

Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer  Hiroshi Kuwamura (KUWA)

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