Traditional Okinawan Performing Arts
Traditional Okinawan Performing Arts, ranging from Ryukyuan Dance to Kumi-odori, Sanshin Music and Okinawan Play, are staged not only to provide opportunities to the citizens of Okinawa Prefecture and the visitors from elsewhere to appreciate these traditional arts, but also to nurture upcoming performers and create occasions for children who are the next-generation ambassadors of culture to directly experience the live show of these arts.
We hope you will enjoy the performance by the players who work hard every day to refine their artistry and contribute to the further development of the traditional arts.
From this first year of the Reiwa era, the staging has been expanded to three programs. In addition to the regular performances at the National Theater Okinawa, another program to provide wider opportunities for the children to enjoy the live performance of traditional arts and the other for residents in various parts of the prefecture (including the remote islands) are scheduled.
National Theater Okinawa
This is the venue that can be referred to as the hall of fame for traditional Okinawan performing artists. The performance here (at the smaller hall) has significance in nurturing young performers. Please enjoy watching the show at this public theatre which contributes to the preservation and promotion of the traditional performing arts.
Kariyushi performance at local (community) theaters
This is a new program starting this year which is specifically intended to help young performers further improve their skills through live shows. The program aims to create more opportunities to stage the performance in various parts of the prefecture, including the local communities the performers are based in and places where the live shows of traditional performing arts are very few.
Traditional Performing Arts
This program focuses on exposing the traditional Okinawan performing arts to the local children, who are the next-generation ambassadors of culture. We believe that, if these arts become more familiar to the children, they will have deeper understanding and attachment to these art forms. Let us share the same dream of one day seeing a new star born from among the children who experienced this program.
Okinawan Traditional Performing Arts
Please enjoy watching the stage by performers who work hard every day to refine their artistry in their specialized genres.
The dances come in diverse forms from the most classical sequences performed in the courtroom to the creative choreographic movements of the contemporary dance
Ryukyuan Dance is presented in a variety of forms, such as Koten Buyo (classical dances) which include the ones by women and others by young men to entertain the guests in the palace of the Ryukyu Dynasty, Zo-dui (miscellaneous dances) which collectively refer to the dances that express the lives of the common people from the Meiji era onward, and Sousaku Buyo (original dances) which have been created in the modern days.
These dances express the emotions of people and the scenes of everyday life. Please enjoy watching the graceful Ryukyuan Dance represented by the excellent movements of performers in beautiful costumes and with lovely stage properties.
The pride of Okinawa that has been registered as Intangible Cultural Heritage by the UNESCO
Kumi-odori is a theatrical art consisting of narrative, music and dance. It was first composed and performed in 1719 by Tamagusuku Chōkun, who was the magistrate in charge of entertainment at Shuri, the capital of the Ryukyu Dynasty, to welcome the messengers sent by the Chinese Emperor.
In 2010, this play was incorporated in the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage Lists. Today, it is being actively performed both locally and abroad by important intangible cultural property holders and memory keepers.
The masterpieces that have survived over the changing times can touch your heart with the genuine Okinawan spirit, no matter how many times you watch them
The Okinawan Play became widely popular as common people’s entertainment from the Meiji era onward. They vary widely from human dramas and comedies to theatrical plays that feature music and dance. Even today they are supported by ardent fans, while playing a very important role in the preservation and inheritance of the Okinawan dialect.
The musical tones and resonance put life into the songs and dances that make you feel the spirit of Ryukyu
There are several musical instruments that are indispensable to the Okinawan performing arts. They are sanshin, Ryukyu-so (harp), flute, drum and Chinese fiddle.
The unique melody lines and vocal techniques enabled this local music to establish a huge diversity from melancholic and introverted ballad to uplifting and rhythmic impromptu.
Get immersed in the world of Ryukyu music presented by Ji-utai (narrative music), which is an integral part of the Ryukuan Dance and Kumi-odori performances, solo vocal and chorus accompanied with sanshin and Ryukyu harp, and dynamic ensemble of these musical instruments.
The dance of Yaeyama passed down over generations in the Yaeyama Islands shows the spirit of Yaeyama since it was created in the activities of daily living
Yaeyama Dance is a unique derivative of Ryukyuan Dance. It includes ritual dances dedicated to the local gods in prayer for rich harvest and in gratitude for the mother nature and those depicting such daily activities as field labor and leisure. Comparing Yaeyama Dance and Ryukyuan Dance to find their similarities and differences may be an interesting way of appreciating these local dances.
Folk Performing Arts
No two traditional Okinawan performing arts are alike because they have separately developed in each island
Okinawa has a slew of cultural events and festivals throughout the year, providing numerous chances to experience the array of folk arts.
Some of the must-sees include the Eisa, the folk dance performed in summer during the Bon period on the Lunar calendar, the brave dance Bōjutsu performed by young men, and Shishimai, a lion dance to exorcise the evil spirit. These folk dances and accompanying music are deeply rooted in common people’s everyday lives and filled with vibrant energy that cannot be felt from the sophisticated theatrical arts.
Ticket prices / Inquiries
For the details on ticket pricing, please inquire the organization hosting the specific
performance event or the agency representing the performers.
For all other general inquiries, please contact:
Okinawa Prefectural Foundation for Cultural Promotion
Room No. 605,
Okinawa Industry Support Center
1831-1 Oroku, Naha City 901-0152
10:00 a.m.-5:00 p.m. on weekdays)
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