10000 Eisa dancers to take over Kokusai Street Aug. 2
Rhythmic sounds of drums fill the air on Aug. 2nd as thousands of dancers of all ages from some 70 groups will march along Kokusai Street in Naha in a four-hour long procession. Along with the dancers, tens of thousands of spectators will fill the 1.6-kilometer-long street.
In addition to the groups, public can also participate, as about 1,000 individuals and unofficial groups can join the parade by signing up on the day of the event starting 10 a.m. at a counter set up at the open space in front of the Okinawa Prefectural Office Building. A ¥1,000 fee is required to participate.
On the day of the event, Kokusai Street is closed for traffic from noon to 6:30 p.m. The parade is scheduled to begin at 1 p.m. In the case of an inclement weather, the even will be postponed to following Sunday, Aug. 9th.
During the parade, the dancers proceed down the Kokusai Street starting from Saion Square and ending at Palette Kumoji, stopping at 10 pre-designated stages along the way to show their stuff to the public.
The 10,000 Eisa Festival has been organized since 1995. It is one of two major festivals taking place in downtown Naha each year. The second is the ‘Naha Tsunahiki,’ the giant tug-of-war, coming up in October.
Participating youth groups include Sobe in Yomitan, Minami-ku in Kadena, Horikawa in Nanjo, Tokeshi in Yomitan, Youth Association of Ogimi, Asato in Yaese, Heshikiya in Uruma, Tengan-ku in Uruma, Matsushima in Naha and Arakawa in Haebaru.
Although the participants are amateurs, the Eisa groups certainly present a professional appearance and sound, the colorful uniforms and intense dance movements striking a chord echoing Okinawa’s historical past and present.
Traveling south on Highway 58 to Naha, turn left at any of the major intersections after passing the Tomari Port / Tomarin Hotel. Kokusai is about one-half kilometer away. Traffic will be heavy, and parking farther away from the Kokusai Street area itself is recommended. No free parking is available in the area, and fees for parking lots have to be paid in yen.