Contestants gather at the Ginowan Convention Center before participating in the 2019 Ginowan Hagoromo Festival Kanchashii dance competition, Sep. 29, 2019. The Hagoromo Festival is one of Ginowan’s biggest festivals. The festival consists of two days of music, dancing, singing, and eating. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Christopher Madero)
Contestants gather at the Ginowan Convention Center before participating in the 2019 Ginowan Hagoromo Festival Kanchashii dance competition, Sep. 29, 2019. The Hagoromo Festival is one of Ginowan’s biggest festivals. The festival consists of two days of music, dancing, singing, and eating. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Cpl. Christopher Madero)

MCAS Futenma Marines and Sailors participate in local Kanchashii dance contest

by Lance Cpl. Christopher Madero
Marine Corps Installations Pacific

GINOWAN CITY, Japan – They were positioned center stage, standing with their backs arched and hands stretched to the sky.

The lights on stage illuminated every step of their feet, tapping to the steady beat of the drum, as their eyes gazed upon their critics, judges, and onlookers.

This is Kachashii, an Okinawan folk dance and the main theme of Ginowan’s Hagoromo Festival. The
Marines and sailors with Marine Corps Air Station Futenma Single Marine Program, and their families competed in the Kanchashii dance competition alongside members of the local community Sep. 29.

The Hagoromo Festival is one of Ginowan’s biggest festivals. The festival consists of two days of music, dancing, singing, and eating local delicacies.

Events and performances include Hagoromo Taiko drums, Eisa, dance performances, concerts, Okinawan bull fights, the traditional Ryukyu King Satto’s Parade, fireworks, and the famous Kachashii dance contest.

MCAS Futenma Commander, Col. David Steele participated in the event alongside Marines and sailors. He spoke about the benefit of participating in the dance competition.

“It’s really fun to take part and just dive into the local culture here,” he said. “Our relationship with the city of Ginowan, the Marine Corps presence here on Okinawa, that’s the most important relationship that we have.”

The festival is centered on an old Okinawan folk tale. According to legend, an angel landed by a pond in Ginowan in order to bathe. Whilst bathing, a local man found her wings and hid them, leaving her unable to return to heaven.

While stuck, she married a farmer and bore him a son. She later discovered her wings and returned to heaven. In many parts of Japan, the story ends here, the version of the tale told in the festival goes on to say the son became King Saion, a powerful lord in the 14th-century contributed greatly for building the Kingdom of the Ryukyus.

"As the base sergeant major, I think it is really important for the city of Ginowan to realize that it’s not just Marine Corps Air Station Futenma, but it is Ginowan’s air station," said Sgt. Maj. Jason Kappen, MCAS Futenma sergeant major.

Marines periodically participate in activities and events in the local community, specifically through the SMP to learn about local culture and build relationships with local residents.

To learn more about cultural events in Okinawa, or in your local area, contact your command SMP representative.

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