Kinser Marines participate in 40th Annual Urasoe Tedako Festival

Kinser Marines participate in 40th Annual Urasoe Tedako Festival

by Lance Cpl. Danielle Prentice, Marine Corps Installations Pacific
Stripes Okinawa

URASOE CITY, OKINAWA, Japan— Marines with the Single Marine Program and Camp Kinser’s leadership participated in the 40th Annual Urasoe Tedako Festival July 22 in Urasoe City.

Tedako means children of the sun. The festival is a three-day event that takes place annually at the end of July; it pays respect to a powerful king of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

The Tedako Festival began 39 years ago in honor of King Eiso, who ruled over the old Chuzan Kingdom of Okinawa from Urasoe Castle during the later part of the 12th century.

According to Okinawa legend, Eiso’s parents were unable to have a child until his father had a dream that the sun visited his wife and entered her chest. Soon after, she became pregnant and Eiso was born. Eiso was also known by “Esonotedako” meaning “son of the sun.” The Tedako Festival received its name from this legend.

During the opening ceremony, leaders of Urasoe City, the Camp Kinser camp commander, Col. Scott R. Johnson, and Camp Kinser sergeant major, Sgt. Major James E. Monroe, stood in front of the stage.

“It was an honor to be invited to represent Camp Kinser and the Marine Corps by Mayor Matsumoto and the people of Urasoe City,” said Johnson, the commanding officer of Headquarters Regiment, 3rd Marine Logistics Group, III Marine Expeditionary Force. “This festival is a wonderful example of Okinawa’s cultural heritage, the love that the people of Urasoe have for their own history, and of course a great party as well!”

After the mayor pumped everyone up and the ceremonial torch was lit, the crowd was encouraged to enjoy the festival.

The festival consisted of dozens of different stands, entertainment and many things to do such as: food venders, games, haunted and bounce houses, live music and performances.

Once the sun began to set, the SMP prepared for their role in the festival. They put their costumes on and divided into two groups, each group lifted and carried a king, standing on a platform, on their shoulders during “The Picture Scrolls of the Three Urasoe Kings.”

“My favorite part was seeing the young Marines from the SMP participate,” said Monroe. “I think it lends a great opportunity for the Marines of Camp Kinser and residents of Urasoe City to come together for a successful event, like we did tonight.”

The Marines also walked behind the three kings later in the performance before the Dragon and Shishi-mai dance.

“I’ve attended such events before like the tug of war, but it’s a much richer experience actually being on stage with local performers,” said Lance Cpl. Michael E. Li, a Marine with the SMP who participated in the performance. “I felt honored that the event organizers reached out to the military community to help out.”

Throughout the event were many musical and theatric acts, performances and fireworks.

“The Tedako Festival is the largest festival of the year for Urasoe City and to be involved in the 40th anniversary with the SMP was a wonderful way to reinforce the respect we have for the Okinawan people and our local hosts in Urasoe City,” said Johnson. “It was a great place to experience Okinawa and share in the local culture. There are many festivals throughout the year on Okinawa that are also fantastic opportunities. If Marines and their families haven’t experienced one, they are missing one of the greatest things about life here on Okinawa.”

Subscribe to our Stripes Pacific newsletter and receive amazing travel stories, great event info, cultural information, interesting lifestyle articles and more directly in your inbox!

Follow us on social media!

Facebook: Stars and Stripes Pacific
Flipboard: Stars and Stripes Community Sites

Looking to travel while stationed abroad? Check out our other Pacific community sites!
Stripes Japan
Stripes Korea
Stripes Guam

Recommended Content