Agibari parade held at Kowan in Urasoe

<em>Agibari</em> parade held at Kowan in Urasoe

On January 3, in heavy rain in Kowan in Urasoe, the Agibari parade was held to pray for the health and prosperity of the local people.

January 5, 2013 Ryukyu Shimpo

On January 3, at the Kowan in Urasoe, the traditional Agibari Michijune parade was held to pray for the health and prosperity of the local people. Men from Kowan stood on floats shaped like dragon boats as they paraded about one kilometer through the village in the pouring rain, sounding a gong or shouting as they went.

The Kowan Agibari started during the celebrations for the coronation of the Emperor Taisho in 1915, similar to the Jibari of the Tomari district in Naha.

By adding its own distinctive style to Tomari’s Jibari, Kowan’s Agibari has been handed down as an event unique to the district. It was discontinued for a time, but was revived in the late 1970s. The event is held on January 3 as a New Year festival, and this year was the seventh time that it has been held.

After prayers in the community cemetery, the participants were divided into two groups – rowers, or bell-ringing men and flag-bearers, who then paraded to Omiya Park, pulling floats with people on board. During the parade, they sang the Agibari song and performed the hand actions and gestures of rowing the boat. The gae performance was held with the standard-bearer of the rival Iso district, as were other shows such as guyamachi.

Gisei Gibo, who watched the parade, said, “I think that we greeted the New Year with Agibari. I am really happy to see young people working to inherit this traditional event. I hope that they will continue the parade into the future.” He smiled as he held up a sacred sake glass.

(English translation by T&CT, Mark Ealey)

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