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Urasoe residents get ready for "Tedako Festival"

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-06-27

Urasoe residents are preparing for one of the most visual and incredible sound performances on Okinawa. As part of the twenty first annual "Urasoe Tedako Festival," over 800 children and 200 adults are currently practicing for the "Taiko Carnival," which will take place on Saturday, July 25, 1998 at the Urasoe Sports Park. The event also includes 200 volunteer staff, for what promises to be an awesome spectacle. Approximately 150 taiko drums will be used, along with numerous "sanshin" players and Ryukyu dancers for a two hour long show. Viewers will not only have a chance to hear and see Okinawan music and dance, but will also find themselves watching an Urasoe legend being re-created through music.

The name of the festival is taken from the story of Urasoe's King Satto, who was the first to have started a long history of trade with China. Because of his father's popularity, King Satto was given the nickname, "Tedako," ‘child of the sun,' when he was born. Under King Satto's rule in the year of 1372, Ryukyu envoys left from Makiminato port to pay tribute to the Emperor of China. They took with them many gifts and traditional Okinawan crafts, and in return received many fine products from China. The historical visit started a relationship with China that would last for centuries, helping Okinawa to become one of the great trading kingdoms of Asia. King Satto's trading vessels, marked an important part in Okinawa's history, as the influence from China still lasts in Okinawan culture even today.

Although there is no dialogue during the performance, a brief explanation in English is given prior to the show. The audience will then experience the story of King Satto and Urasoe's first official trade with China through music and dance. The performance even has Mayor Kenichi Miyagi playing the part of King Satto, along with the Deputy Mayor, and Urasoe's Treasurer also playing roles as part of the King's court.

The main part of the show will be the many taiko drum clubs from all around Okinawa that will perform. There will also be one group coming from Nagasaki to participate. Lead by the "Chijinshu Taiko Drum Group" the drummers are currently practicing every Tuesday and Thursday evenings.

Another main attraction to the show will be the 100 "shi shi" lions that have been hand made by volunteers. Approximately 30 of the "shi shi" lions will actually be used during the performance, while the other 70 will be used for display. Making the "shi shi" lions by hand has pulled together over 500 citizens from Urasoe, which included 16 different groups and organizations.

Along with some intense drum rhythms, beautiful dancing, and elaborate costumes, viewers will also see traditional martial arts as part of the historical re-enactment.

The carnival is being planned and sponsored totally by the Urasoe City Hall, and everyone involved, from staff to performers, will be participating as a volunteer. Major local artists that include "Chibi," drummer from the rock band "Zodiac," along with "Feishi," Miyagi Mamoru, and Hirata Taichi will also be lending their time to perform earlier in the day during a concert, and also as participants in the Taiko performance.

If you have been looking for a local festival that offers enjoyment plus plenty of Okinawan culture, then be sure not to miss the "Urasoe Taiko Carnival." for more information call Carolyn Kerr at 876-1234 ext. 205.

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