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Eyes of Eisa Okinawa are on Kokusai Sunday

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2007-08-02

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

The 10,000 Eisa Festival's crowning event is Sunday afternoon, with 10,000 dancers from 55 groups performing along Kokusai Street in downtown Naha.

Eighteen 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 festival parade performances are set to run from 3 p.m. to 7 p.m. Eisa Ashibinaa, the last of the weekday evening shows, is tomorrow night on a special stage in front of Okinawa Prefecture Hall. The two-hour performance begins at 6:30 p.m., featuring Naha drummers and Ryuraku Group.

Two events fill Saturday afternoon and evening along Kokusai Street, with a 10,000 Eisa Dance Pre-Festival at Palette Kumoji. The fun begins at 3 p.m.

The pre-festival continues into the evening at nearby Okinawa Prefecture Hallís open space. That show performance runs 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. For those new to Okinawa, itís a chance to see firsthand how families begin teaching children their cultural heritage at a very early stage.

The 10,000 Naha Eisa Festival began last weekend, and events have been taking place across the city throughout the week.

Whatís more, festivities arenít confined to the capital city. In central Okinawa, the Chatan Seaport Festival kicks off at 1 p.m. Saturday, and runs through Sunday at Sunset Beach in Mihama. To the north, the Nago Mayorís Cup Dragon Boat Races take place on Sunday, beginning at 10 a.m., at Nago Fishing Port.

Eisa and other festival opportunities continue to expand next week. The weekend of August 11th~12th look for the Kin Town Youth Eisa Festival, Yonabaru Festival and Tug of War, Ginowan Hagoromo Festival and the Itoman Hometown Festival. 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 is one of two major festivals in downtown Okinawa 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/Tomarine 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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