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Okinawa Japan photography group featuring unique pictures of Okinawa
Over 100,000 people line the streets of Naha’s famous Kokusai-dori to watch the different Eisa performing groups. Taiko drums reverberate the music from the samisen (a traditional Okinawa three-stringed musical instrument) plays and dancers sweat, this is eisa season!
Started in 1995 by the Naha tourism association as a means to liven up the summer tourism season, The Eisa Dance Festival is held in early August and concludes with the main event everyone talks about consisting of 10,000 dancers playing taiko drums and samisen parading down Kokusai street.
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) traveling throughout their neighborhood, guiding their deceased ancestors home during the Okinawan traditional 3 day season called O-bon.
Today Eisa is one of the main symbols of Okinawa and can be heard and seen being performed year round in local izakaya (Japanese pubs) and different cultural events in Naha and throughout the islands. But the Naha Eisa is one of the biggest festivals on Okinawa of and should not be missed.