Sunday parade spotlights Ryukyu Kingdom splendor

A parade down the Kokusai Street in Naha taking place on Sunday depicts what the life was like in the ancient Ryukyu Kingdom.

Shuri Castle is ready for the onslaught of visitors starting tomorrow as it celebrates with the annual Shuri Castle Festival, a colorful 10-day opportunity to see what the island was like in the historic Ryukyu Kingdom.

The festival kicks off with traditional performing arts Friday through Sunday in the free zone at the castle, with the coronation ceremony and procession tucked in Saturday in both the paid and free zones.  Okinawan traditional dance, singing and karate performances take place daily through Nov. 3rd at the Shuri Castle Park.  Visitors have the opportunity to see and experience firsthand how life was centuries ago.

A parade down Kokusai Street on Sunday presents the ancient Kingdom in vivid color, with resplendent costumes adorning participants.  The parade of kings, queens, lady’s maids, men and even messengers dispatched from China turn back the clock to the time when Okinawa was an independent nation.

The Sunday parade, the Royal Procession, begins at 11:50 a.m., and is expected to last nearly 1½ hours.  Parade participants are all Okinawans who’ve volunteered to showcase the island’s colorful history.  Kokusai Street is best reached traveling south on Highway 58 to Naha City, then looking for left turns after passing the Tomarin Hotel.  Parking areas are somewhat plentiful, but not inexpensive.

Entertainment runs through the full week.  Saturday and Sunday starting at 5 p.m. there will be Candlelight at Shuri Castle free area, with almost 700 candles.  On the 29th, at 22 a.m.,, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m., there will be Ryukyu dance performances in the Shuri Castle Park free area.

Another traditional procession takes place November 3rd, beginning at 12:50 p.m., at the Shuri Castle Park paid area.  Entry is via Shuri Gate and Torihori area.

Visitors are encouraged to use the Shuri Station or Gibo Station monorail stops to visit Shuri Castle Park, where parking is oftentimes difficult.  The park is open 10 a.m. ~ 5 p.m. for the festival.