Miruku Unke parade held to pray for good health

<em>Miruku Unke</em> parade held to pray for good health

On August 19 at Shuri Akata-cho in Naha, there was a sunei parade in a miruku unke ceremony in which a miruku drove off evil spirits with a fan.


August 21, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On August 19, a traditional ceremony called miruku unke was held at Shuri Akata-cho, Naha. A smiling maitreya and his followers walked around the community and prayed for residents’ good health.

The miruku unke ceremony was revived in 1994 after not being held for about sixty years. Since then it has become an annual event, and this year is the 19th occasion that the ceremony has been held during the contemporary period. Starting from the Akata Club Community Center, the miruku advanced slowly, covering just 1.1 kilometers in one hour. A miruku walked at the head of what is called a sunei parade of about 100 people including a street marching band and children carrying the typical centipede flags of the Ryukyu dynasty. The band played Akata sundunchi on a wind instrument known as a pirarura. The miruku waved a paper fan to drive off evil spirits from around the people waiting to watch the parade. Some babies started crying and elderly people waved to the miruku from the second floor of their houses.

The 24 members of the marching band practiced for about two months in preparation for the parade. Kanko Teruya, the chairperson of Miruku Unke Planning Committee said, “So many people were interested in the parade that we did not have enough costumes, so we had to order some new ones. High school and junior high school students play a key role in the ceremony. It has helped to reconnect people in the community.” A dedication performance called an utuimuchi was held and students danced and performed karate.

(English translation by T&CT, Megumi Chibana and Mark Ealey)

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