Hai Sai! Welcome to my Blog.

Hello, my name is Tom Corrao and I am the blogger behind the Okinawaology Blog. I created this blog to share and discuss all things Okinawan. I’m also the Public Relations Officer and Minkan Taishi to the Chicago Okinawa Kenjinkai. My experience with Okinawa is derived from the time I spent there during the 1980's and 90's (10 years) when serving in the United States Air Force. I've also been married to an Okinawan woman for 30 years now and have been immersed in many things Okinawan through both friends and family. I do not claim to be all knowing about everything Okinawan but I try hard and study the history and culture. I welcome everyone that is interested in Okinawa and hope that I can provide useful information to those uchinanchu that may be curious about their culture and heritage. I also welcome those who are not of Okinawan heritage but have experienced, or are experiencing, the islands culture while stationed there with the United States Military. Comments are welcomed and will be published as long as they are in good taste and on track with the purpose of this blog. My hope with this blog is to bring Uchinanchu people around the world a little closer to their cultural roots by expressing information that has started to fade in light of a more modern world. We should never forget our culture or the people who came before us and through the Blog my intentions are to meld the old with the new and implant knowledge that will help maintain the traditions and culture of an island people.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

Okinawa Has Multiple Festivals During October

Multiple Festivals will take place in close proximity to one another this October in Okinawa. As everyone probably knows, that is when the 5th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival will takes place. But don't just go there to participate in the Uchinanchu festival. Go a few day early and catch the fun at the Naha festival as well.

If you arrive in Okinawa prior to the Uchinanchu festival you should try to be in Naha on the 8th and 9th of October. There will be the Naha Festival which is the lead up to the annual Otsunahiki (Tug of War). This year will be the 41st year for the event which welcomes all to participate by pulling the rope either for the East or the West. The choice is totally up to you. The best part though is that its free and is really a great time.  Here is a video I took in 2006 the last time I attended the Otsunahiki. It's kind of low quality and a little bit too long but it gives you the idea of what you'll be in for.

The fun begins on Kokusai street in downtown Naha with a parade of banners, hung from huge bamboo poles. All throughout the parade route various members of the teams take turns balancing the poles in the air single-handedly. It is a show of strength and when the balancing member gets tired he must hand off the pole to another team member without letting the pole hit the ground. The banners represent the seven districts of the east and the seven districts of the west. The teams carry the banners escorted by eisa drummers and and other traditionally garbed people.

You will see and hear many things during the parade with loud traditional finger whistles peircing the air as well as the sound of firecrackers gongs and drums. The parades route leads to Komoji Corner on Highway 58 where the highway will be blocked off for the huge tug of war.  Many young men wearing the black special uniforms called  "Mumunuchihanta" participate in this parade. There are 14 committees and the flags represent symbols of good-luck to the areas where they live. It is very difficult to walk and hold the flags. So the young men are very proud to participate in the parade by holding the flags of their districts.

During the festival the busy Kumoji intersection of Route 58 will be completely cleared, with the road divider removed for the event. They do this to make way for the gigantic rope used in the tug of war. It's a Guinness World Record holder, measuring 200m (656 feet) in length, and weighing more than 40 metric tons (44 American tons)!

This event definately needs more than 15,000 people in order to pull the rope, and that means we need you too! So come join in the fun. It will become a lifelong memory for you. Then after the tug of war is over, don't forget to take home a pieces of the rope as it is believed to bring good luck for the rest of the coming year.

So that means we can attend the Otsunahiki (Naha Festival) on October 9th and then move into the week of the 5th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival (WUF) which begins with another parade on Wednesday evening. I discovered something interesting about the festival today when reading the Ryukyu Shimpo. I discovered that another festival called the Worldwide Eisa Festival is being combined with the WUF on October 15th. Here is the article I found.

Worldwide Eisa Festival to be held on October 15

In the afternoon of July 6, at the Prefecture Reporters Club, singer songwriter Kazufumi Miyazawa (center) talked about the Worldwide Eisa Festival.

July 7, 2011 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Worldwide Eisa Festival 2011, which aims to establish a new style of “participatory Eisa” as a world standard, is scheduled to be held at Onoyama Stadium in Naha City on October 15 and 16.

While the festival has been held under the name “The National Eisa Festival” until last year, it has changed its name in association with the 5th Worldwide Uchinanchu Festival scheduled to be held at the same time in October.

The Worldwide Eisa Festival 2011 includes a “Creative Eisa Contest,” which invites various groups from within the prefecture, other prefectures and overseas to compete to impress and energize the audience and deliver something creative, “Traditional Eisa,” in which 18 groups of junior troupes from the prefecture are scheduled to participate, and “Chimdon Stage," (Get Excited Stage) in which the groups that want to exhibit Eisa and drum performance strive to entertain the audience.

At a press conference held on July 6, Daiichi Hirata, a member of the Festival Executive Committee and the head of the Department of Culture, Tourism, and Sports in the Okinawa Prefectural Government, said, “While we respect traditional Eisa and think that creative Eisa does allow young people to more easily participate, we want to create a new style of Eisa, one that is even more participatory and interactive, a style through which people will be able to start new friendships.”

Singer songwriter Kazufumi Miyazawa, who composed and sings Shinkanucha (Fellowship), a song for the “Creative Eisa Contest,” said, “There are many people like myself living in other prefectures and other countries of the world who love Okinawa and are concerned about its future. I wrote this song in the wish that those people’s hearts would be united.”

For further details and for applications, call the Worldwide Eisa Festival 2011 Executive Office at 098 (867) 2622.  For the official website for the festival, access

Then if your still around at the end of October you can attend the Shurijo Castle festival on October 28-30 2011. At this festival you can feel the pleasant autumn breeze, and visit Shurijo Castle to travel back in time to the Ryukyu Kingdom era! The festival will feature Ryukyu dance performances and recreation of Ryukyu King Coronation Ceremony by Chinese envoys.

The highlight of the festival, magnificent Ryukyu Dynasty Procession, will take your breath away, as a cast of 1,500 performers parade down the vibrant Kokusai Street in colorful and gorgeous costumes. Meet the dignified King of Ryukyu, elegant Queen, and numbers of Kingdom officials and entertainment parties. It is more than just a dress-up. It is a revival of the prosperous Ryukyu Dynasty into the present!

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