Shikinaen setting for annual gathering

Shishimai, a.k.a. the Lion Dance, is one of the many traditional performances in Shikinaen this Sunday.

The Shikina Garden Friendship Gathering is ready to welcome visitors Sunday, with entertainment including Shishimai, the famed Lion Dance.

Shikinaen picnic features Okinawan folk entertainment.

The festivities, which include folk entertainment is taking place at Shikina Gardens from 11 a.m. ~ 6 p.m.  Entry is free, although parking at the gardens is limited. The 15th Friends of Shikinaen meeting brings together hundreds of Okinawans to salute the World Heritage Site on Okinawa.

Designated as a World Heritage special scenic spot, “Shikinaen” is the pride of the Mawashi area of Naha City. The grounds are often used for traditional performing arts by youth organizations and cultural groups. The Friends of Shikinaen citizens’ group is organized to promote traditional culture in the Mawashi area, creation of new culture, healthy training of youth and activation of the area, and education of, and preservation of cultural properties.

No Okinawan festive occasion is complete without eisa.

While dance performances centering on the traditional performing arts are popular when hosted by young students of the Mawashi area, an experience corner and an opening-a-shop corner are also prepared. A photo exhibition will also be held at the Sunday event.

The gardens of Shikina-en are located on a small hill to the south of Shuri Castle in Naha. The gardens were laid out in 1799 to embellish one of the residences of the Sho family, rulers of the Ryukyu Kingdom. They were used for the reception of an envoy from China the following year. The residence and its gardens are also known as Shichina-nū-Udūn (シチナヌウドゥン) or Southern Gardens (南苑), as opposed to the Eastern Gardens or Uchayaudūn, laid out on a small hill to the east of Shuri Castle in 1677.

The stroll garden features a pond with two small islands; a Chinese-style hexagonal pavilion; other pavilions with red tiles, the use of which was reserved for the upper classes; Chinese-style arched bridges; and seasonal plantings of plum, wisteria, and bellflower.