Heshikiya Eisa teams to strut their stuff

One of Okinawa’s most famous district eisa groups is going through final tune-ups for a weekend of Eisa action.

Heshikiya Eisa’s performance style is not as much showy as most eisa, but more traditional and classical, a methodology that ranks the Heshikiya group among the tops in Okinawa, and even mainland Japan. Equally a crowd pleaser is the group’s two-team set up, where the East group and the West group are practically secretive about their presentations, not revealing them publicly until the day of U-kui, the final day of the Obon festivals in Okinawa.

The teams’ styles are different, with the west team’s dance more powerful and male oriented, while the east performs a more smooth style, similar to a female. Missing are the big drums usually associated with Okinawan Eisa. Heshikiya groups beat small drums called Paranku, and use them in hand dance only.

Traditional Eisa performances are Saturday around Heshikiya district. Unlike other groups, there are no set performance times. You simply need to be in the area. On Sunday, though, the free Heshikiya Eisa Festival takes place at Uragahama Park in Uruma City, next to Heshikiya Fishing Port. The festival begins at 5 p.m.