Sunday, August 21, 2011

A Night at the Eisa Matsuri Drum Festival

Local youths waiting for the competition to start.
A drum team posing for a group photo.
by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Four friends and I went to the large nighttime drum festival held near Kadena Air Base off of Gate Two Street last night.  It is an annual event which I also attended last year.
Three Friends:  (From Left)  Daniel Murphy,
Cynthia Page, and Nefredia Covington

Local patrons in traditional Japanese dress.
We watched several teams of Eisa drummers and dancers in this highly choreographed and entertaining competition, and we walked the fairgrounds and sampled locally prepared foods.  The event is sponsored by Orion Beer, and Coca Cola also had a big presence among the crowds.  Many Okinawans and even some of the Americans showed up in kimonos and other forms of Japanese dress.

The music that the drummers marched to was taped, and much of it was centered on Okinawan banjos - loud, but rhythmic.  (As the banjos began plunking, I kept expecting Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs to start signing "Come and listen to my story about a man named Jed!"

The show and the crowds from the grandstand.
This year there were even several small drummers, pre-schoolers, who marched with the teams and were able to do the fancy footwork and beat their drums in time to the music.  The show was very impressive.

The evening was capped off with a large fireworks display.  The people in Asia love their fireworks, and the Americans always seem to be up for it also.

Sunday, August 14, 2011

The Drum Season

by Pa Rock
Note the big, red Esai drum lying on its side on the street.
The small truck served as an amplifier for the music.
Citizen Journalist

One of the first bits of exploring that I did last year immediately after arriving on Okinawa was a trip to Naha with my new friends from work to view "10,000 Drums on Kokusai Street."  For several hours groups of drum/drill teams marched along Kokusai Street which is in the heart of Naha's tourist district.  As the next couple of months drew on, there were several impromptu drum shows at various locations on the island - with some in my own neighborhood.  My friend, Murphy, and I even went to an evening drum and fireworks show.

Drum season is once again upon us, and there have been two drum shows close by my apartment building within the past week.  As I was just beginning to get to sleep last Tuesday, I heard the Eisa drums start banging and the Okinawan banjos plunking.  I looked out my bedroom window and had a great view of a drum presentation of about 40 young individuals six stories below.  It was dark outside, so I stayed in and watched the show from the comfort of my apartment.

Drummers taking a break.
Then yesterday evening as the sun was preparing to set, another seemingly spontaneous show began about a block from where I live.  I gathered my camera and headed down to see the show - but right on cue it all stopped just as I was approaching.  I snapped a couple of shots anyway of the disbanding group.   Enjoy!

The annual big drum and fireworks show (the Eisa Matsuri 2011 Festival) will be next weekend, so hopefully I will have some better pictures then.

I don't want to work, I just want to bang on the drum all day!

Monday, August 8, 2011

Torii Beach After the Typhoon

by Pa Rock
Sea weed and debris from the storm
Cultural Explorer

Yesterday, Sunday, after finally getting back to the gym and doing some much needed grocery shopping, I made an afternoon trip to Torii Beach to see what treasures the typhoon had pushed ashore.  There were just a few people on the beach, probably due to the fact that it was still cloudy and windy, and three young me were kite surfing.  I did run into my friend Valerie on the beach, and we walked along talking and picking up sea glass.  She found a small, plastic "Tigger," and I recovered a couple of good golf balls - and there was lots of sea glass.

A young kite surfer
The waves, the rocks!
Oh, and hermit crabs were everywhere!

Saturday, August 6, 2011

The Storm has Passed - Finally!

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

The all-clears have sounded and Typhoon Muifa has officially left Okinawa.  It was beginning to look like the storm that would never go away!

It is now late afternoon on Saturday.  The winds are still gusting and occasional rains whip across my neighborhood, but I have been outside and breathed some fresh air - for the first time in over forty-eight hours.  Two of my bosses have also called to check on me, providing my first human contact in as many hours.

I am concentrating on housework for the rest of the day, and tomorrow I will hit one of the local beaches and see what treasures the storm washed ashore!  Even a one-day weekend will be a treat!

The Typhoon that Won't Stop!

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

Saturday  morning shortly after 7:00 a.m. - and still Typhoon Muifa continues to roar past my sixth floor apartment.  Just heard on the radio that we are still at TCCOR 1:  Emergency.  To call the winds from last night "ferocious" would be serious understatement!  And yet a few little cars continue to putt up and down Highway 58!

I have weathered several typhoons now, and Muifa is by far the most aggressive.

Okinawa (and all of Japan, for that matter) has been built up with typhoons and earthquakes in mind.  There are no super-skyscrapers, and the buildings are solid.  The three tremors that I have felt in my apartment building over the course of the past year have been relatively slight.   And the buildings are tight - leaks never seem to be an issue.

The winds are howling,the rain is coming down in sheets, and I am going back to bed!

Friday, August 5, 2011

Typhoon Muifa Rages On!

by Pa Rock
Cultural Explorer

We were sent home from work at noon yesterday (Thursday) as the early winds of Typhoon Muifa began picking up dangerous strength, and by last night the island was rocking!   It is now nearly 6:00 p.m. Friday, and the winds have been raging all day.  Our official weather condition is TCCOR One:  Emergency, and the sea conditions are East-West Danger.  Unbelievably, Okinawans are still driving their little cars up and down Highway 58, the island's main traffic artery, though there are not as many vehicles as usual on the road.

Last weekend I was sick with the flu and only managed to leave the house once during what was a three-day weekend.  This three-day-weekend I may not get out at all.

Please send sunshine and good health!