The sound beat of drums fill the air as dozens of young dancers perform the Eisa dance on Okinawa Island. Every summer the Kyu-Bon is celebrated to honor the ancestor’s spirits. It is believed that the spirits come and visit their living relatives during the festival’s three days.
This is a highly important holiday for the Okinawan people.
Okinawa is a unique island with a strong sense of identity, which endured wars and oppressions, natural devastations and economic hardships. Throughout unstable times, Okinawa’s culture and tradition has remained its core and soul.
Obon is a festival of the dead. A strong bond between the living and the deceased and the young dancers serving as a communicative link between both worlds, highlights the unique identity of the Okinawans.
Groups of young men and women take very seriously their role as those who serve the spirits and entertain the living. This tradition has become increasingly famous and all over the world Eisa groups and fans can be found.
Off the Beaten Path: Understanding Okinawan culture today can’t be completed without researching its past and the glorious Ryukyu Kingdom, which ruled in Okinawa for 500 years. Influenced by China and Japan, this Island offers many venues to explore. From historical castles to Ryukyuan arts and crafts; from the birthplace of Karate, to the famous Okinawan diet and its extremely healthy dishes. Above all we will meet the warm, gentle people of Okinawa and enjoy their hospitality as we go on an interesting journey around the island.
Special thanks to James Taylor, Edo Sanchez, the Okinawa Convention & Visitors Bureau and the Okinawa Film Office.