August 5th marks Annual Eisa Festival in Naha

People lined the streets on Sunday, August 5th, to watch the lively dance and music collaboration of the different groups. The taiko drums reverberated, the music sounded, the dancers sweat and energy mixed together with the supportive cheers and claps of 100,000 sets of hands from the audience. This is eisa season.

Started in 1995, the Naha tourism association wanted something to liven up the summer tourism season, as well as perhaps steal a little thunder from the older All-Okinawa Eisa Contest held in Koza stadium, Okinawa City which is held later this month.

The tradition of eisa in Okinawa is said to have gotten its start with Buddhism monks traveling from house to house offering prayers for the departed (deceased) loved ones. They would chant there prayers along with a drum. This evolved over many centuries into groups of young men (shonen) to traveling throughout their neighborhood, guiding their deceased ancestors home during the Okinawan traditional 3 day season called O-bon.