Women solemnly dedicate traditional dance Chibana Usudeku

Women solemnly dedicate traditional dance <em>Chibana Usudeku</em>

On September 30, at the Chibana Community Center in Okinawa City, women performed usudeku and prayed to drive out evil spirits and for a good harvest.

October 4, 2012 Ryukyu Shimpo

On September 30, which is August 15 in the lunar calendar, the dedicatory dance usudeku, which was first performed more than three centuries years ago, was performed in Chibana, Okinawa City. With a shishi (effigy of a lion-dog), which had been stored in a sanctuary near the community center out in front of them, 22 women paraded around the community. The women prayed to drive out evil spirits and to achieve a good harvest as they hit usudeku and walked around. Then, in a circle, they performed a solemn usudeku dance at the community center as local residents watched.

The usudeku was performed by women wearing Chibana hanaori, which is the traditional kimono of the Chibana district. This July Chibana hanaori was designated as a traditional craft by the Ministry of Trade, Economy, and Industry (METI). Members of the Chibana Usudeku Preservation Group were very pleased with the splendid occasion.

President of the group 82 year-old Yoshiko Ogimi recited a poem that she had written: “Listen young people of Chibana, METI designated Chibana hanaori, cannot be found in other communities, what a great achievement, to the world, Chibana hanaori.”

Ogimi, who has performed usudeku for about 40 years, led the parade with her sister-in-law Fumi Shimabukuro, who is vice-chairwoman.
Meanwhile, the eldest performer, 88 year-old Hideko Shimabukuro, who has also performed usudeku for four decades, said, “I have watched usudeku ever since I was a child. The elderly lady in front of me danced very well, so I would also like to keep going for a while yet.”

Director of the Chibana Hanaori Business Cooperative Naomi Kamida said, “I watched them practicing hard for today’s performance. Seeing how hard they work makes me want to do my very best weaving. As a weaver, I want to work hard to match the passionate approach of the dancers.”

Yukiko Kinjo, who at 64 year-old is the youngest dancer and the president of the Women’s Club, said, “We want to continue this traditional ceremony and help to invigorate the community.”

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

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