They love a good festival in Okinawa – see how your family can join the celebrations
When we first moved to Okinawa, Japan, almost two years ago from England with our two daughters (then, aged 3.5 years & 7 months old) one of the first things that caught our eye were advertisements for various festivals. Once we were settled in we started to attend a few and it didn’t take us long to realise Okinawan’s LOVE a good festival.
I am quite certain you could probably attend one every week if you wished, often multiple on the same day if time allowed! It appears the Okinawan’s love to celebrate; whether it be a simple sweet potato (yes, I once saw a festival in honor of the sweet potato) or the much larger annual Naha Great Tug-of-War which dates back some 500+ years & has even been given a mention in the Guinness book of World Records as the world’s largest straw rope. There is literally a festival for everything!
Regardless of the nature of the event, they all seem to have a few common elements; great festival food, good music, more often than not either the amazing taiko drums or Eisa dancing, often both but the biggest thing I notice is how family oriented everything is. Which is not just true for festivals but everything here in Okinawa.
It’s an all hands on deck kind of place not only is it welcomed but it is encouraged; high school students guiding cars in parking lots, elders handing out information or young children participating in the festival performances, it is all very inclusive.
We have never gone to a festival, event or even cafe here in Okinawa and felt we were out of place because we have young children with us, in actual fact, they are often the centre of attention!
A few of our favourite festivals we have attended over the past 22 months are the ones held on Kokusai Street; the entire street is closed to traffic making the street the stage for dancers to perform the various traditional dances, drummers and even karate demonstrations (did you know karate originated in Okinawa?!). Our kids love finding a spot to watch all the action but what they love the most is getting up and dancing in the street to the sound of the drums!
Matt & I always comment how lucky we are to be raising our girls in such a fun, friendly, family focused environment and despite the small size of this sub-tropical paradise there are ample activities to do with children; many of which are of little or no cost at all.
If you happen to find yourself in Okinawa here are a few upcoming festivals you may wish to attend, I am positive you won’t be disappointed if you do!
Tedako Festival : July 18th
10,000 Eisa Dancers Festival : August 2nd
33rd Yonabaru Ootsunahiki Festival : August 15th & 16th
Photos and article © Fun Flying Four