10,000 Eisa Dancers
On the first Sunday of August every year, thousands of eisa dancers converge on Kokusai Dori (International Street) in Naha, Okinawa. And this year, we were there to see it!
The largest gathering of its kind in Okinawa, the 10,000 Eisa Dancers Parade is an awesome dance competition down the main street of Naha. It also pays homage to traditional visa dance, folk song, and Japanese taiko drumming. Small drums, big drums, seniors, toddlers, men, women - all groups take part in this colourful celebration meant to pay respect to ancestors. The parade lasts all afternoon and ends in a coordinated dance with over 1000 dancers.
Some songs are traditional and others follow the new "creative eisa" with hip hop and rock rhythms. The drumming and dances are hypnotic - the dancers were precise down to the smallest toe movement. Despite the heat and humidity, you could tell they were having a ton of fun.
Shisa dogs shook their fur, rolled, growled thunder and playfully tried to bite off heads!
Kid groups that have practiced for months performed too, some as young as two years old!
The crowd of mostly locals was really into it, clapping along. It was thrilling and we will definitely back next August!
And of course, it wouldn't be Okinawa without a vending machine!