Festival revives golden age
Okinawa is often praised for its uniqueness.
There are many things that contribute to this quality: its beautiful nature, food and culture. But above all, what makes Okinawa so different from other parts of Japan, is its history – specifically the Ryukyu Kingdom, which lasted about 450 years until the late 19th century.
The Shuri Castle Festival is an event that commemorates the unique heritage of the Kingdom, which is often described as the golden age of Okinawa. From Oct. 28 until 30 and Nov. 3, a series of festivities will be held at the castle including folk dances, reenactments of rituals and processions that feature traditional attire and music.
According to Tomoya Arakaki of the Shurijo Castle Park, the four-day event draws up to 60,000 spectators on average.
“Many events are packed into Saturday from morning to evening,” Arakaki said. “You can see the historical reenactment in the garden and traditional performances on the stage in the afternoon, and wrap up the day with the mysterious candlelight illumination of the castle in the evening.
“On Sunday (Oct. 30), the festival takes its stage on Kokusai Street in Naha, where a big parade with about 700 people will be held to include the King and Queen, delegates from China and entertainers.”
Shurijo Castle was the administrative center and residence of Ryukyu kings for 450 years. Completely destroyed during the Battle of Okinawa, it was partially rebuilt as Shurijo Castle Park in 1992. This festival was initiated to celebrate the opening and has been an annual event ever since. The castle was designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2000.
All the events are free, however, park admission is 820 yen for adults; 620 yen for high school students and 310 yen for younger children.
Visit Shuri Castle and witness the kingdom’s golden age.
The Royal Events
TRADITIONAL PERFORMANCES: Various elegant Ryukyu court and folk dances on the stage at the Castle’s lower garden. – Oct. 28 - 29, 10 a.m. - 8 p.m.; Oct. 30, 10 a.m. - 4:20 p.m.
PARADE OF CHINESE ENVOY: The parade starts at Shureimon gate and heads to Shichanuunaa (lower garden). – Oct. 29, 11:40 a.m. – 11:55 a.m.
REENACTMENT OF CHINESE ENVOY’S TITLE PRESENTATION to newly enthroned Ryukyu King at the castle’s Majestic Square. – Oct. 29, 12:10 p.m.-1:10 p.m.
RYUKYU KINGDOM PARADE: 700 people dressed in period attire, including the king, queen, officials and Chinese envoys parade along Naha City’s Kokusai Street. – Oct. 30, 12:30 -2:30 p.m.
SHINRYO-NO-TOMOSHIBI (candlelight of all nations): The castle is illuminated by candlelight and viewed from Shurijo Garden. – Oct. 29 - 30, 5- 9 p.m.
SHURIJO MUSIC FESTIVAL: Different genres of music are performed on stage. Oct. 29 features Hiiro and Kaoru, a pianist and flutist at 4 and 6 p.m., followed by Wa～Nagomi～. a guitarist and sanshin player at 5 and 7 p.m. Oct. 30 features BANJO AI, a banjo player at 4 and 6 p.m., followed by fleur, a violinist and pianist.
NEW YEAR’S PROCESSION OF RYUKYU KING: A reenactment of Ryukyu king’s New Year’s visit to three temples from Shurijo Garden to Ryutan Street. Nov. 3, 12:50-3:30 p.m.
Address: 3 Shuri Tozo-cho, Naha City (near Shuri Station)