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Eyes on Eisa are on Kokusai Street Sunday

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2010-07-29

Drums—literally hundreds and hundreds of them—will set the beat for Sunday’s grand finale to Okinawa’s Eisa Parade featuring 10,000 dancers.

The 10,000 Eisa Parade’s crowning event is Sunday afternoon, with 10,000 dancers from 55 groups performing along Kokusai Street in downtown Naha. Separate Eisa groups and another 12 Naha District youth troupes will perform as they parade the length of Kokusai Street. The parade slows as groups stop along the way to demonstrate their skills along the entire mile-plus stretch, ending at Palette Kumoji. The parade performances are set to run from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m. Towns and villages participating include Tomishiro, Ishigaki, Urasoe City Itoman City, Kin Town, Katsuren Town, Ogimi Village, Gushikami Village, Kadena Town, Ginowan City and Gushikawa.

Events will fill Saturday afternoon and evening at the south end of Kokusai Street, with a 10,000 Eisa Pre-Festival at Palette Kumoji. The fun begins at 5 p.m. and runs until 8 p.m. Six Eisa dance teams and two youth Eisa teams will perform. The pre-festival begins earlier in the day at nearby Okinawa Prefecture Hall’s open space, with Eisa dance and Sanshin performances. That show performance begins at 1 p.m., followed at 2 p.m. by lessons for spectators. For those new to Okinawa, it’s a chance to see firsthand how families begin teaching children their cultural heritage at a very early stage. Those who wish to participate lessons can e-mail info@kokusaidori.org (in English OK).

Festivities at Okinawa Prefecture Hall start at 10 a.m. Sunday. The afternoon brings another performance at 1 p.m. at Okinawa Prefecture Hall, followed by another opportunity for visitors to try their hand at the dance and sanshin.

Eisa and other festival opportunities continue to expand next week. The weekend of August 7th-8th brings the Yonabaru Tsunahiki, and the Ginowan Hagogromo Matsuri comes a week later, on August 14th-15th. A full listing of activities across the island are in Japan Update and on the Japan Update website, by clicking on Events Schedule.

The 10,000 Eisa Festival and Parade is one of two major festivals in downtown Naha City each year. The second is the Naha Tsunahiki, coming up in early October.

Getting There
To Naha, travel south on Highway 58. The first opportunity in Naha to turn left to Kokusai comes shortly after passing Tomari Port/Tomarin Hotel. At the next intersection, turn left at the Roynet Hotel traffic signal. Kokusai is about one-half kilometer away. Three other left turns can be made at Matsuyama Crossing, Kumoji Intersection and Izumizaki. All are marked. Be assured traffic will be heavy, and we recommend parking farther away from Kokusai Street itself, then walking to the festival areas.

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