Unjami Festival in Ogimi

<em>Unjami</em> Festival in Ogimi

On September 11 at Shioya Bay in Ogimi, singing and beating drums, women greeted the men as they arrived on the shore.


September 12, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On September 11, the Unjami Festival was held in Shioya Bay and other areas of Ogimi. This event is designated as one of Japan’s significant intangible folk cultural assets. At shrine rooms in Tanna and Yafu, Okinawan shaman or kaminchu prayed for a good catch. This was followed by the Ugan Barley dragon boat race, which brought the festival to a climax. The Unjami Festival is held every year in the seventh month of the lunar calendar following the Bon season. It is said that the festival in Shioya dates back some 400 or 500 years to the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

At a shrine in Tanna, the kaminchu prayed for good health and safe sailing. They then served their family members some sacred sake and rice cakes. At a shrine in Yafu, kaminchu holding bows in their hands moved around a pole to pray for good harvest, chanting “Yonkoi, yonkoi.”

In the Ugan Barley dragon boat race, men rowed boats with kaminchu on board towards the coast of Shioya, shouting, “To-hya.” On the shore women waded into the water up to their hips, clapping their hands and beating drums as they greeted the boats.

(English translation by T&CT, Lima Tokumori and Mark Ealey)

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