Eisa

Base Info
Photo courtesy of Joseph Kumzak
Photo courtesy of Joseph Kumzak

Eisa

by: United States Army Garrison Okinawa | .
U.S. Army | .
published: August 09, 2014

Obon festivities in mainland Japan often ends with bon odori (bon dancing) and the floating of lanterns. While in Okinawa the festivities conclude with an all night Eisa dancing. As a final escort to the departing spirits, troops of Eisa dancers move throughout the streets and alleys of each town. These dances have roots in traditional Buddhist prayers. They begin after the sun sets and continues into the early morning hours. Though the religious nature of the holiday may be distant to some, for most, the festival is an opportunity for the families to reunite.

Michijune is dancing Eisa along the street of each aza, or district in a community. Just like bon odori on mainland Japan, it is a traditional event that on Obon night, young people in the district dance around from one household to another in hopes of receiving important donations to fund their communities youth activities.

TIPS FOR OBON

Traffic just before, during and after Obon in major areas will be highly congested due to families visiting one another for the holidays. Be advised to plan accordingly as travel times may take longer than usual.

Beach activities are not recommended due to the Okinawan people believe that the bad spirits may pull you underwater.

During the Obon, Michijune parade is conducted in each district and sometimes they may block the streets. Also during Michijune parade, dancers may ask for donations but it's not mandatory to give.