Eisa in Okinawa

Living tradition

 By Kylie Giggins   Dec 17, 2016

As you get off the aircraft as you land in Okinawa, you discover right from the beginning that it is definitely a very different vibe to landing in Tokyo. Not the normal hustle and bustle of a busy airport of transient travellers but a more distinct feel of many visitors from mainland Japan and overseas who have come to soak up the gorgeous atmosphere, beaches and islands.

There are no rail systems joining the airport to take you to nearby cities. In fact the rail system simply exists of a monorail. Even within Okinawa there is so much diversity. Most commonly known is the capital of Naha, and it's main street of shopping and food places called Kokusai Douri. If you get a chance you must visit Kokusai Douri on a Sunday when they close the street to traffic and it becomes a shopping, food and entertainers delight. During the year you will be privileged to witness different cultural and music groups as you walk through the main street. One such group is Eisa.

There is a distinct sound to the beat of Japanese drums with the rhythm and dance of Eisa. The backdrop is the local Family Mart convenience store. Among the busy weekend trading, locals and tourists line the streets for authentic traditional food and souvenirs and modern day manga, anime and sweet shops The atmosphere is loud and vibrant. But the beat of the drum as the music begins stops onlookers. They stand in silence and are entertained by the ancient tradition. Unique sounds and rhythm and a combination of both young and older musicians perform. This time they are here to raise money for the Kumamoto earthquake fund. But you will also see Eisa as the traditional Obon celebrations occur in Japan farewelling ancestor spirits. Tradition lives on in Okinawa and there is no sign of it being lost as ancestors and traditions are honoured through Eisa.

Photography by Kylie Giggins
JapanTravel Member

Join the discussion

Jihad Mahmoud 3 months ago
Interesting. I would love to visit Okinawa soon. Many friends told me that they felt outside Japan when they were there.