Okinawa Tourism Information:AtMidsummer,EnjoyCoolEisaDancesinChatan!CompleteReporton2015EisaFestivalinChatan(WithVideo)

At Midsummer, Enjoy Cool Eisa Dances in Chatan! Complete Report on 2015 Eisa Festival in Chatan (With Video)

post : 2015.09.12 21:00

The central part of Okinawa is very active in Eisa dances.  In Chatan Town, Eisa dances in Jaagaru Youth Group and Eguchi Youth Group are very popular.  Their swift move, up-tempo Eisa drum beat, powerful stick work are so cool!!!

Before the actual season of Kyu Bon*, Eisa Youth Groups in Chatan get together in “Eisa Festival in Chatan”!  At the Eisa festival hosted by Chatan Town Youth Association, four Eisa youth groups from Chatan Town and two youth groups from Okinawa City, where Eisa dance is performed actively as well, made a friendship appearance.  

*“Kyu Bon (Old Bon)” is celebrated on the 15th day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, and so differs each year. 

“Eisa Festival in Chatan” celebrated the 36th anniversary this year, and was held on Sunday, August 2 in Kuwae Athletic Field in Chatan Town.  The festival started with Eguchi Children Group.  Just as they learned from young boys and young girls from Eguchi Youth Group, they showed the authentic Eguchi Eisa dance.  The song and the way they beat drums were exactly the same as found in Eisa by Eguchi Youth Group!  Just like shown in the picture, the way they got down was excellent!

Eisa performance from youth groups started with the one by Sunabe Youth Group in Chatan Town!  Eisa of Sunabe Community started about 350 to 450 years ago when the original form of Eisa was created everywhere in Okinawa.  The characteristic of their Eisa is that dancers keep dancing to a non-stop music.  Using “Shinabi nu Hama,” a famous song of a singer from Sunabe, Shigeo Kyan, they impressed us with a combination of slow tempo and dynamic drum beat. 

Then, Eisa of Kitatama Youth Group was performed.  The president of Kitatama Youth Group made a comment, “We successfully performed what we have been practicing every day.  Please look forward to seeing “Eisa Orase (competition)” of Kyu Bon between communities.  During Eisa michijune (Eisa dancing along the street in the community) of Kyu Bon, youth groups bump into each other around the borderline between communities, where they start competing with each other by performing their own Eisa dances.  It is really worth watching!

After Eisa performances by two youth groups in Chatan Town, Adaniya Youth Group of Kitanakagusuku Village performed their Eisa dance as a guest, which clearly showed the difference between regions. Eisa of Adaniya has a slow tempo and produces a unique landscape even in Okinawa by their dancing style of traditional Eisa male hand dance and female dance with mintari (hat) on.  They say that Adaniya has inherited the traditional style of Eisa over generations.  They will have the honor of closing in “Kitanakagusuku Youth Eisa Festival,” which is held on September 13 this year in Kitanakagusuku Village.  It is amazing that the festival will be held at a world heritage site Nakagusuku Castle Ruins!

And again from Chatan Town, the powerful performance of Jagaru Youth Group was shown!   Their tight performance as well as high-spirited heshi (call out) by men and women overwrapped with heavy resonant sound of drum grabbed the attention of spectators!  Their Eisa performance is popular in and out of the town, and the youth group produced a professional folk musician, Kazutoshi Matsuda. 

For the second to the last, another guest, Higashi Youth Group from the neighboring city, Okinawa City appeared on the stage!  They also had a fighting spirit, and spectators from Chatan Town also gave them a warm hand and cheer for cheer to their vigorous performance mainly by Oodaiko (large drum)!  Higashi Youth Group will also give a performance at “Zento Eisa Festival” held in Okinawa on September 6.

When the excitement reached a climax, the last group, Eguchi Youth Group appeared on the stage!  Their Eisa dance is popular enough to close the festival, and the community Eguchi produced an active singer in Okinawan folk and classic music, Toru Yonaha.  They entered the stage gravely with an entry song “Eguchi-bushi,” showed silent move and active move in “Sunsaami-bushi,” and a climax song “Tooshin Dooi” with impressive two versions.  After they speeded up the tempo a couple of times, all of the dancers stopped the move all at once.  Perfect!

Please watch their brave performance in the following video!



How did you like it? Kyu Bon in 2015 was from August 26th (July 13 of lunar calendar) to August 28th (July 15 of lunar calendar) of the western calendar.  Especially on “Uukui,” August 28 (July 15 of lunar calendar), everybody could enjoy Eisa dances by local youth groups everywhere in Okinawa.  Seeing is believing.  Why don’t you enjoy Eisa of Chatan Town live?

・Address of Community Centers in Chatan Town:
・Eguchi Community Center(708-4 Aza-Yoshihara, Chatan Town, Nakagami County, Okinawa)
・Jagaru Community Center(2 Aza-Yoshihara, Chatan Town, Nakagami County, Okinawa)
・Sunage Community Center (61 Aza-Sunabe, Chatan Town, Nakagami County, Okinawa)
・Kitatama Community Cneter(898 Yoshihara, Chatan Town, Nakagami County, Okinawa)

Okinawa CLIP Photo Writer  Hiroshi Kuwamura (KUWA)