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46 years of All-Island Eisa Festival

Date Posted: 2001-09-07

The annual “All-Island Eisa Festival” will take place at the Koza Athletic Park in Okinawa City this weekend. This year’s festival marks the 46th time of the event. And concurrently, the Orion Beer Festival takes place on the adjacent baseball field.

As many as 15 Eisa groups from various parts of the island will take part in the two-day event that begins each day at 4 p.m. and with fireworks starting at 9:15 p.m. About a dozen years ago an eisa group consisting entirely of foreigners took part for the first time and has been a fixture in the festival ever since. This year the foreigner’s group is scheduled to perform starting 4:30 p.m. on Sunday.

During the summer, a number of "Eisa-dance" performances can be seen at many festivals around the island. Eisa dance was originally performed as part of a prayer for the spirits of the ancestors. In Okinawa, as well as in the mainland, it is believed the spirits of ancestors come back home during Obon, a day on which memorial services are held. Eisa originally started as a dance to escort the ancestors' spirits back to their resting place on the last day of Obon.

Last year, over 250,000 people came to see this spectacular event and it was also televised nationwide.

Eisa has become an essential part of the Okinawan summer and many young people enthusiastically take part in this performing art.

The festival will be held at the Okinawa City Baseball Stadium close to Kadena gate 5. However, the parking in the area is practically non-existent, and the police will not be lenient. The best bet is to park at the USO on Kadena. Then walk out of Gate 2 take a right at the 2nd traffic light and the stadium will be on the left side after about a10-minute walk.

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