Okinawa local and US communities celebrate Ryukyu Dynasty Parade together

Pole-bearers dance with a Hatagashira on Kokusai-dori Street, Naha, Okinawa, Japan, during the Ryukyu Dynasty Parade on Oct. 27, 2019. The parade is part of the Shurijo Castle Festival, which is a celebration of the culture of the Ryukyu Dynasty and its traditions. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kindo Go)
Pole-bearers dance with a Hatagashira on Kokusai-dori Street, Naha, Okinawa, Japan, during the Ryukyu Dynasty Parade on Oct. 27, 2019. The parade is part of the Shurijo Castle Festival, which is a celebration of the culture of the Ryukyu Dynasty and its traditions. (U.S. Marine Corps photo by Lance Cpl. Kindo Go)

Okinawa local and US communities celebrate Ryukyu Dynasty Parade together

by Lance Cpl. Kindo Go
Marine Corps Installations Pacific

NAHA, OKINAWA, Japan – Visitors and residents of Okinawa gathered excitedly along the sides of Naha’s bustling main street as the sounds of a shamisen, a traditional Japanese three-string guitar, began to play in the distance. As the Ryukyu Dynasty Parade slowly came into view, cheers and traditional Japanese music filled the air.

Members of the local and U.S. communities attended the parade on Kokusai-dori Shopping Street in Naha, Okinawa, Japan, Oct. 27.

A collage of red, gold, orange, and blue costumes, banners, and carriages covered the Naha’s Kokusai-dori shopping street. The parade participants performed traditional dances while making their way down the street.

The parade is part of the Shurijo Castle Festival, which is a celebration of the Ryukyu Dynasty’s culture and traditions.

“I’d like to see the traditions and celebration for the former kingdom here,” said 1st Lt. James Shahayda, an unmanned aircraft commander with the Marine Unmanned Aerial Vehicle Squadron. “I was a history major in college and I’d love to see all the culture and history within this parade.”

The Shurijo Castle Festival has three main events held over two weekends, with the first being the Ryukyu Dynasty Parade on the last weekend of October. The next two events are held on the first weekend of November, which include a reenactment of the Ryukyu king’s procession, and the lighting of the Bridge of Nations.

The parade itself featured several elaborate performances of traditional dance from the Ryukyu Dynasty. Women wearing colorful gold kimonos, and lotus shaped-hats, sang and danced gracefully to the rhythmic clicks of their yotsudake, a castanet type instrument. Men in white clothing, complimented by their decorative headdresses, filled the streets with energy as they yelled, danced, and beat on their drums.

“This is my first time in Okinawa,” said Shahayda. “So far I’m really enjoying it. I haven’t been to many places, but for sure had to come to Naha. I had to check this place out because I’ve heard many good things about it. It just so happened that I stumbled into the middle of a festival and that makes this place even better.”

The Ryukyu Dynasty ruled for 450 years (1429-1879) with the island of Okinawa at its center. Its symbol is Okinawa's largest castle, Shuri Castle.

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

Around the Web