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.

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