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Parade, popular entertainers appear at Hagoromo Festa

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2007-08-09

Ginowan Seaside Park will fill to more than 100,000 this weekend as the 30th annual Hagoromo Festival entertains as the island's top event.

Sponsored by Ginowan City, the two-day event kicks off at 3:45 pm Saturday with opening ceremonies, followed by simultaneous action at several venues adjacent to the Okinawa Convention Center. Kids Eisa starts at 4:30 p.m. followed by women’s and men’s Eisa groups, all aimed at building excitement for the Ginowan King Satto Costume Parade beginning at 5:55 p.m.

The parade travels the Kankaimon Street route just outside the convention center complex, moving into the festival area at the Kankaimon Gate.

Hundreds will participate in the parade, including eisa groups, while still others dress up for the costume element. And of course, there’ll be dances, dances and more dances. Organizers are calling it the ‘dance of 10,000 people’ and will include the traditional Okinawa dance, Kacha-shi, lion dances, drum dances, street dances and Hawaiian hula.

As the parade winds its way into the main area north of the convention center buildings, Emi Tawata will be performing, joined then by both men’s and women’s Eisa demonstration teams. The King Satto parade is so large, it’s expected to take nearly three hours for everyone to fill the festival grounds.

The 30th anniversary stage show promises to match the expected record crowds, with Keiko Higa & Shubeez, Shunichi Irei and Johnny Ginowan in the first performance running 6:50 p.m. to 8 p.m. Hidekazu headlines the second show with his band, along with Coina, Sinsaku Ikeda and Kenichi Shiroma performing until fireworks begin at 9 p.m. Not too far away, at the open air theater, Music Festival 2007 Live will offer still other entertainment.

The Hagoromo Festival Sunday begins with spray art at 11 a.m., followed by nine college festival groups performing on the main stage starting at 12:50 p.m. For the adventurous, there’s even a Hagoromo Arm Wrestling competition beginning at 1:30 p.m. The Hagoromo bull fights will take place in the afternoon, but not at the Seaside Park. The action centers on the Akamichi Bull Ring, starting at 1 p.m. Admission to the bullfight is free.

The evening fills with a Kacha-Shi contest and additional entertainment.

Throughout the festival there’ll be the usual food, souvenir and amusement booths scattered around the grounds. Fireworks Sunday are expected to be launched about 9 p.m. The official festival hours are 3 p.m. to 9:10 p.m. Saturday, and 11 a.m. to 9:15 p.m. on Sunday.

A main theme of this festival is “Kachashi,” an historic Okinawan folk dance performed on joyous occasions. It’s most often found in the countryside, where folks spontaneously join in kachashi, accompanied by sanshin and small drums.

“Hagoromo” or “Haninsu” in Okinawan dialect means a “celestial robe.”

As with many of the festivals here, there is a legend involving “hagoromo”, but a legend with variations elsewhere in Japan and around the world.

As the legend goes, a man walking near a river came upon a beautiful robe he had never seen before, and he took it home and kept in a storage room. He then came back to the river and discovered a beautiful heavenly maiden bathing.

After finishing her bath, she looked for her robes, but in vain.

Seeing her upset, the man came forward and talked softly to her, inviting her to his house, where he dressed the maiden with his own clothes.

They later married and had two children, a boy and a girl. One day, the maiden heard her elder child, a girl; sing a lullaby to her brother. The song was about the robe kept in the storage. Although happy, she still could not resist getting it back. She found her robe and put it on, but was immediately sent back to heaven, leaving her husband and two children.

That story has a sad ending, but the legend of “Hagoromo” told in Ginowan City continues; the son became King Saion, a powerful lord in the 14th century who contributed greatly for building the Kingdom of the Ryukyus. The name “Hagoromo Kacha-shi” was taken from this pleasant story and combined with the energetic dance of Kacha-shi.

The Cost

As with all festivals, entry is free. Spending is what you want it to be, and is driven by thirst and hunger levels, and the ability to resist buying souvenirs at the countless stands which ring the festival site.

Getting There

From northern military bases, travel south on Highway 58. Immediately after passing Camp Foster Kitamae Gate, look for Convention Center signs and turn right. Convention Center and festival site are about three kilometers south. Coming from Camp Kinser and Naha, travel north on Highway 58. At signs for Makiminato and Convention Center, turn left. The site is about 1.5 kilometers away.

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