“IIya Sassaa, Haaiiya” shouted members of local Youth Eisa Group, and the sound of the drums and Sanshin, Okinawan traditional three-strings musical instrument, echoed around the OIST campus. Eisa is a traditional Okinawan dance, which is mainly performed during the Obon - Festival of the Dead - season to welcome ancestors’ spirits. On August 16th, 22 members from the Tancha Youth Association visited OIST to perform Eisa dance at OIST campus center court. Tancha is a local district where OIST is located.
The performers consisted of male members who wore a red or purple cloth called Saaji around their head and female members who wore pink flower-print Yukata, which is casual cotton Kimono. The men drummed and danced athletically while the women’s dance added grace and gaiety. The drumming attracted lots of people to the center court and fascinated OIST researchers and staff from many nationalities and backgrounds.
When the performance reached its climax, it was the perfect time to start “katcharsee”, an Okinawan free style folk dance. All of the performers and the audience, including those who experienced eisa for the first time, joined the katcharsee session together and danced along with song, Sanshin and the drums until their shirts were soaked with sweat.
Mr. Kazuya Ohama, the head of Tancha district, said “I’m very pleased to perform Eisa here at OIST. OIST and Tancha have been building a good relationship through playing soft ball games. By having more community events like we had today, I hope we can deepen the relationships with OIST. We gave a really good performance today. ”
Dr. Mary Ann Price, Principal Investigator of the Developmental Signalling Unit, who is from the United States, said “It is nice to have such a colorful Okinawan tradition right here on our door step. I think it is a really good way for the local community to interact with the people at OIST. It was really good fun!”
Thanks to the members of Tancha Youth Association for coming to OIST and putting on a wonderful performance. We are looking forward to seeing you next year!