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Sounds of Eisa fill Okinawan evenings

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2010-08-26

The annual Obon holidays, with its customs and traditions celebrated in honor of ancestral spirits, ended Tuesday evening on Okinawa with Eisa dance performances and Michi-junea, the parades through local streets.

The three-day Obon is over, but the music and Eisa dance are just now getting into full swing this summer season, with the Yokatsu Peninsula on the islandís east central coast gearing up for Sunday Eisa festivities at the Umi-no-Eki Ayahashi Hall. The Yokatsu area has traditionally been a popular area for Eisa dance, with the Yokatsu Peninsula having cultivated Yakena Eisa and Heshikiya Eisa during its century-old dance history. Yokatsu Eisa dance is known beyond the boundaries of Okinawa Prefecture, gaining popularity in mainland Japan, where revelers enjoy the originality of Yokatsu costumes.

The Heshikiya Young Peopleís Association, Henna Young Peopleís Association, the Nishihara Young Peopleís Association and the Yonashiro Young Peopleís Association have simple priest costumes, but a complex and very catchy dance. Itís a dance requiring expertise,a nd the Yakena Young Peopleís Association has bright costumes and dynamic drum performances taking the spotlight this weekend, contrasting the performances of other Eisa groups. The Sunday Yokatsu Eisa program runs 3 p.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday, is open to the island-wide community, and is free. Henna, Yaskena, Yonashiro, Nishihara and Heshigikiya youth Eisa groups will perform.

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