What is eisa? Lecture series attracts 270 participants

What is eisa?  Lecture series attracts 270 participants

The “Eisa University” lecture series offered 15 lectures in total, organized by the Eisa Museum located in Koza Music Town, Okinawa City.

March 9, 2020 Ryukyu Shimpo

The Eisa Museum (Eisa Kaikan) opened two years ago in Koza Music Town, Okinawa City, as a hub to inform on all things eisa—a traditional Okinawan performance.

Its main project, the “Eisa University” lecture series, has been gained popularity.

The “Eisa University” lecture series was held two consecutive years thus far.

The inaugural year offered five lectures over two days and welcomed a total of 101 participants.

For the 2019 series, the offerings were expanded and a total of 15 lectures were held between June 2019 and February 2020.

The lectures covers a great breadth of topics: eisa history from its origins through modernity; eisa variations and regional differences; lunar Bon Festival customs; the allure of the mo-ashibi eisa; the history of the chondara dance; eisa and social changes in postwar Okinawa; creative eisa; eisa as a tourist resource; and eisa as a youth-group activity. Lecturers came from diverse backgrounds, including professors from the Okinawa Prefectural University of Arts and Okinawa International University, as well as researchers from other organizations.

For the 2019 lecture series, the total number of participants exceeded 270; many were from out of town, including the ten participants visiting from other prefectures.

The lecture on finger whistling, which is used to add excitement to eisa, was especially popular.

Authorized tour guides of the Okinawa City Tourism and Products Promotion Association, Zenko Hazama, 69, and Fusae Karimata, 67, (both Okinawa City residents) said they enjoyed learning about the allure of eisa in depth through Eisa University.

As tour guides, they were eager to share what they learned with students visiting from other prefectures on class-trips.

Osamu Maejima, 42, planner and coordinator of the lecture series, moved to Okinawa from the main islands of Japan a year ago when his work brought him to the Universities of the Ryukyus.

He was exposed to eisa when he was young, and became fascinated by the dynamic and powerful group performance.

He has since passed the upper-level eisa certification test, and now lives in Okinawa City.

Maejima is thrilled for next year’s lecture series: “Uchinanchus (Okinawans) are enamored by eisa.

I hope to help spread this wonderful traditional performance.”

Every year, the city of Okinawa hosts the prefecture’s biggest event, Okinawa Zento Eisa Matsuri, which will be held for the 65th time this year.

The city declared itself “City of Eisa” in 2007 and consequently, the Eisa Museum was founded.

This year the Eisa Museum will celebrate its two-year anniversary, from March 22 until the end of the month.

Yoshiaki Kinjo, director of the Eisa Museum said, “As home of the eisa, we will continue to expand our lecture series, and provide the locals with more opportunities to feel proud of the eisa tradition.

We are looking forward to promote our unique museum to the domestic market as a place to experience, enjoy and grow familiar with eisa.”

(English translation by T&CT and Monica Shingaki)

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