Kadena Eisa festival marks end of Obon with eisa contest
Seven youth Eisa groups perform on Shinmachi Street in Kadena Town today, Aug. 18th in an Eisa Festival that takes place each year on the day after the last day of Obon starting 18:20 when North Kadena Youth Group is begins their bon dance.
The groups taking part include Senbaru Eisa group that boasts a history of more than 200 years dating back to around 1800 when samurai class people from Shuri, Naha and Kume Island built a small settlement there. According to local folklore, young men in the settlement started performing eisa as a tribute to their ancestors, and praying for the prosperity and health for the living.
The trademark of Senbaru Eisa is that only men perform and sing in Buddhist verses and words. As befitting to their warrior class roots, karate moves are also often incorporated in their performance.
The evening ends with a contest between eisa groups called “Gaa-e,” in which two eisa groups match each other, and the one that loses its rhythm first loses the match.
The festival takes place on Thursday evening on Shinmachi Street next to Kadena Circle. The street is closed for vehicle traffic from 17:00 to 22:00. As the parking in the area is non-existent, organizers urge people to use public transportation to and from the area.