Photo courtesy of Shurijo Castle Park
Photo courtesy of Shurijo Castle Park

Mid-Autumn ceremony brings back history

by Shoji Kudaka
Stripes Okinawa

There is the Japanese phrase “Chushu no Meigetsu,” which refers to the moon seen on Aug. 15 of the lunar calendar. The moon on that specific day is traditionally revered in this country. According to the National Astronomical Observatory of Japan, this years’ Chushu no Meigetsu will take place Sept. 13.

In Okinawa, there used to be an official function closely related with the autumn moon. “Chushu no Utage” is a traditional mid-autumn ceremony scheduled to be held at the Una Forecourt of Shuri Castle on Sept. 14 and 15. This event dates back to the times of the Ryukyu Kingdom, when the best talents on the island were summoned to entertain envoys from China on Aug. 15 of the old calendar. Following that custom, music will be played by artists who are certified by the Japanese government as “National Living Treasures,” while dancers will perform to the tunes under the autumn moonlight. Just like the old days, this ceremony is meant to present the best of classic entertainment the island has to offer. According to the NAOJ, the custom of Chushu no Meigetsu originally came from China. Given this background, the event on Sept. 14 and 15 will be a good opportunity to appreciate the beauty of the moon, the classy presentation of the entertainment, and the depth of the history.

Chushu no Utage
Date: Sept. 14 - 15 
Time: 6:30 – 9 p.m. (Gate opens 6:15 p.m.)
Location: Shurijo Castle Park (Una Forecourt)
Address: 1-2 Kinjo-cho, Naha, Okinawa 903-0815
GPS Coordinates: N 26.216966, E 127.719250
Admission: Free
URL: oki-park.jp/shurijo/en/
*A tour of this event is currently available at MCCS.
https://www.mccsokinawa.com/mccsoki2015/_sub2015.1.0.aspx?cid=4294979703&pglot=2147485852
* Use of public transportation is recommended to those who go on their own.

From Camp Foster, Kadena Air Base
Take Bus No. 25 or 125 for from AEON MALL Okinawa Rycom and get off at Yamakawa. Shuri Castle is about a 10 minute walk from the bus stop. 

From Camp Kinser 
Take Bus No. 191 bound for Baten from Yafuso on Route 58 by the base and get off at Torihori. Shuri Castle is about 20 minute walk away from there.

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