August 8, 2022

Eisa is a traditional performing art performed during the Obon period in Okinawa Prefecture and the Amami Archipelago in Kagoshima Prefecture. During this period, young people parade through the district streets, dancing to the music of songs and musical accompaniment, in order to welcome the spirits of their ancestors who return to the world. Also, in the past, the function of collecting donations and using them as funds for the activities of villages and youth associations was also emphasized, and there are cases where the money was used to build reservoirs. Depending on the region, it is also called Yaisa, Ensa, Shichiguwachimoi, and Nimbuchimai. Through dance, relationships with others are created, which lead to bountiful harvests, good catches, prosperous business, family safety, disease-free health, longevity, peace and longevity, a happy marriage, prosperity of descendants, ancestor worship, prayers for good fortune, and prayers for warding off evil. I dance while cherishing connections in a wide variety of ways, such as being involved in and "hare". In recent years, the style of dancing with drums has increased, and events such as the Okinawa Zento Eisa Festival, which gathers Eisa from each region, are held to appreciate the dance itself, and it has become an important tourist event.


In 1603, Fukuronaka Shonin, a native of Tohoku, stayed in Shuri for three years to propagate the Jodo sect of Buddhism. It is said that around the middle of the 18th century, there was a custom of inviting 'Nenbutsuya' (Nenbucha), who performed takuhatsu and performing arts, to hold memorial services for ancestors during the Obon festival in Yashikimachi and other places in Shuri. At that time, the style was different from that of modern Eisa, and danced only to the Kadozuke song and the Nenbutsu song. After the Meiji period, Eisa spread among the common people in the form of young villagers chanting nembutsu. As it spread from the central and northern parts of the main island of Okinawa to the entire prefecture and became popular, the number of cases where folk songs were incorporated increased. It is said to have started on Yonaguni Island about 80 years ago. Before the war, there were few examples of using taiko drums, and the mainstream style was to wear a yukata or other casual clothes and wrap a tenugui around the head. The existence of nenbutsu meow almost disappeared around the end of the Taisho period. After the war, the style of Eisa changed greatly, mainly in Okinawa City and the central part of the main island. In 1956, the All-island Eisa Contest was held by the former Koza City (now Okinawa City). This Okinawa's premier eisa event had a great influence on the later development of eisa. Since it was originally a competition (competing for ranking), the emphasis was placed on attracting (showing) to the judges and the audience, and the participating youth associations changed their composition, formation, costumes, performances, etc. to a more flashy style. I will go. On June 13, 2007, Okinawa City, which has grown along with these Eisa cultures, declared itself an "Eisa City" and is working to revitalize the region. On the other hand, in the northern part of the main island north of Nago City, the traditional Teodori Eisa dance continues. In addition, the traditional eisa of Uruma City in the central part of the main island of Okinawa has a long history, and the Yakena Seinenkai, Heshikiya Seinenkai, and Akano Seinenkai have over 100 years of tradition. Yakena Eisa is said to have originated in the 7th month of the lunar calendar in 1890, and the 100th anniversary of its birth was held in 1991. Akano Seinenkai is said to have introduced Eisa to the mainland for the first time, and since the 1990s, many Eisa groups have been established nationwide, mainly by people from Okinawa Prefecture. In addition, it is said that the number of enthusiasts who are not from the prefecture joining and the establishment of their own groups are increasing. Examples of dances outside of Japan include the United States and France.


The origin of Eisa is one of the musical accompaniment included in the Jodo sect Nenbutsu-ka, "Eisa, Eisa