Cross Currents Home
Resources | About Us | 日本語サイト
Home Learn About Japan Learn About Japan-U.S. Cross Currents Learn About the U.S.

Fireworks exploding over a river.
Local Festivals
  1. Sapporo Snow Festival (Sapporo, Hokkaidō)
  2. Aomori Nebuta (Aomori City, Aomori)
  3. Sumida River Firework Festival (Tokyo)
  4. Takayama Festival (Takayama City, Gifu)
  5. Naked (Hadaka) Festival (Inazawa City, Aichi)
  6. Wakakusayama Mountain Burning (Nara City, Nara)
  7. Gion Festival (Kyoto City, Kyoto)
  8. Awa Dance Festival (Tokushima City, Tokushima)
  9. Yosakoi Festival (Kōchi City, Kōchi)
  10. Nagasaki Kunchi (Nagasaki City, Nagasaki)
  11. Eisā Festival (Okinawa City, Okinawa)
  12. Niihama Taiko Festival
Listen in English | Japanese Japanese View Article in English | Japanese
A composite image of a number of dancers, drummers and fireworks to celebrate Okinawa
The Eisā dance is an important part of Okinawan cultural heritage.
Photo Courtesy of Kozaweb
Eisā Festival (Okinawa City, Okinawa)
The most representative of Okinawa’s festivals is Eisā, held during the last days of the lunar calendar Bon holiday. Dancing and playing musical instruments, men and women performers go from house to house to honor the spirits of the ancestors. Instruments are large and small drums, as well as the typical Okinawan stringed instrument, the sanshin. Opinions differ as to the origin of Eisā, but some say that in the 17th century a monk came to Okinawa (then the Ryūkyūan Kingdom) from Kyōto, and translated a Buddhist chant into Ryūkyūan, which then became widely known. After World War II, Eisā became not just a custom to honor the ancestors, but also a performance exhibition. Eisā can be seen throughout Okinawa, although the costuming and dances vary from place to place. For example, there are Eisā in which only women dance, and another type called angama where the dancers wear masks. In the weekend immediately after the lunar calendar Bon holiday, the Okinawa Eisā Festival takes place in Okinawa City. This festival began in 1956, and teams are selected from all over the islands to dance together to the music of the sanshin and drums.
Download Podcast in English | Japanese
Document | Audio-Video | Chart | Picture | Map