New Year’s Banquet held at Shuri Castle first time after fire

New Year’s Banquet held at Shuri Castle first time after fire

This year’s Ryukyu king and queen pose for a photo during the New Year’s Banquet festivities on Jan. 1, at the Shuri Castle Park in Shuri, Naha City.

January 1, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo

Shuri Castle Park’s annual New Year’s Banquet (Shinshun no Utage), a three-day festivity, held during the first three days of each New Year, opened again this year on park grounds on January 1, in Naha City, Okinawa.

It is the first New Year’s Banquet since the castle burned down in October.

Just as the previous years, many families and tourists visited the park to enjoy the ceremony, which was held before the castle ruins.

The guests wished for the castle to soon regain its former glory.

The ancient New Year’s ceremony of the Ryukyu Dynasty, the Imperial New Year’s Morning Ceremony (Chouhaiokishiki), is re-enacted every year at the Shuri Castle Main Hall, or the Seiden, and its courtyard, the Una.

As the three-day event was scaled down this year, the imperial morning ceremony was called off.

At the Lower Garden (Shichanu Una) of the Shuri Castle, the Ryukyu chamber music, Uzagaku, played as this year’s Ryukyu king and queen appeared. Guests took photos of the couple posing in front of the main citadel entrance (Houshinmon), with some of its framing still exposed.

Tsugunori Kedamori, 59, a school teacher from Yaese, and his wife Reiko, 58, said, “The Shuri Castle fire was heart breaking, but we’re hoping the castle will be rebuilt soon.”

Their daughter Yui, 17, a junior at Kaiho High School, commented, “I want to learn more about Okinawan history.”
Both domestic and international tourists visited Shuri Castle during the New Year’s festivities.

Visitors enjoying the Uzagaku performance at the Keizuza and Yomotsuza on Jan. 1, at the Shuri Castle Park in Shuri, Naha City.

Kiminori Sato, 44, a civil-service worker from Hokkaido, visited with his family.

He said, “We expected Shuri Castle to be closed, but we were excited to see more of the castle than we had hoped. We’d like to come back when it’s rebuilt.”
The New Year’s Banquet featured traditional Ryukyu dance and music, and Okinawan awamori liquor tastings to celebrate the New Year.

A bulletin board was set up in the basement level of the Suimui-kan, which houses the visitor center, and many left supportive messages, wishing for a swift reconstruction of the castle.

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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