Okinawan mid-autumn ceremony brings back history

Okinawan 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. 24.
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. 22 and 23. This event dates back to the times of the Ryukyu Kingdom, when the best talents on the island were mobilized 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. 22 and 23 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. 22 - 23 
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 
Admission: Free
* A tour of this event is currently available at MCCS. 
* Use of public transportation is recommended to people who go on their own.
How to get to Shuri Castle from Camp Foster and Kadena Air Base by bus
From Camp Foster Gate 5 (Commissary Gate) 
- Kitamae → Yafuso (350 yen. Take either line 20, 28, 29, 43, 120, 228 63,263, southbound. Awbout 30 min.) 
- Yafuso →  Torihori (340 yen. Take line 91 or 191, south/eastbound. About 30 min.) 
From Camp Foster Gate 1 (Gate to Building 1)
Ishinda→Yamagawa (560 yen. Take line 25, southbound. About 40 min.)
*Ishinda bus shop is near the Gate 1 to the Building 1 of Camp Foster.)
*It will be about a 10-minute walk from Yamagawa bus stop to Shuri castle.
From Kadena Air Base Gate 2
Goya→Furujimaekimae (730 yen. Take line 21 or 90, south bound. About 50 min.)
Furujimaeki→shuri (230 yen. Take Yui Rail/mono rail. Northbound. About 6 min.)
*Goya bus stop is at the intersection of the Koza Music Town.
*It will be about a 15-min. walk from Shuri monorail station to the Shuri Castle


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