Summer Festival for the Ancestral Spirits O-Bon

The Feeling of the Okinawan Bon Festival


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The Bon Festival is an event at which we offer a feast to our ancestors' spirits and hold a memorial service.
There are different ways to celebrate the Bon Festival all over Japan.


In Okinawa, the Bon Festival is held the 13th, 14th, and 15th of the old Japanese calendar, which this year fell on August 19th, 20th, and 21st this year.
In Okinawa, we hold festivals every year according to the old Japanese calendar.
I hear that in China, they hold festivals according to the old calendar as well.

In the past, Okinawa always had prosperous trade with China.
The influence of Chinese culture from that period remains.

In Okinawa, in the evening on the last day of the Bon Festival, the youth association of the area dances a traditional dance called the "eisa."
It is said that for the three days of the Bon Festival the spirits of our ancestors come down to earth.
On the last day of the Bon Festival, we dance the eisa in order to send the ancestors back to the other world.


The youth association visits each home with a Buddhist altar and dances about three songs in the garden or in front of the house.
They go to each house one after another, so you can hear the drums and their singing voices until late in the night.
When I hear that music,
I have the feeling that "I am in Okinawa," and I experience a mysterious sensation of warmth.

When they are dancing near my house, I can't hear the TV over the music.
This year, the youth association came to my house and danced at about midnight.
Apparently my little sister followed them and watched them dance the eisa at a few different houses.

The eisa is very intense and majestic dance.
In recent years, primary and middle school students dance the eisa as part of their sports day.
I practiced the dance very hard when I was in primary school and middle school, too.

I stopped dancing the eisa after middle school, but as a person from Okinawa, I want to learn some kind of Okinawan art, so right now I'm learning the Ryukyu dance, another traditional dance from Okinawa.
The Ryukyu dance is another dance you can do at various events in Okinawa.
It's a more elegant dance than the eisa.

I want to value the culture of my region.

Gon-chan         Author:Gon-chan

I finished high school in March, 2014.

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