This post was originally published on August 1, 2008.  We’re pulling it out of the archives for all of you – especially our newer readers – to enjoy.  This year’s parade will be held on Sunday, August 7th (rain date: August 14th). Hopefully you’ll all get the chance to see Eisa in person this summer!

CONTRIBUTED BY HEATHER NORDELL

Eisa

We chose to come to Okinawa so we could experience their rich history and festivals. Long before we even knew we were coming to Okinawa I remember watching the Travel Channel and seeing the Eisa dancers perform. I was mesmerized by the rhythm and movements. It was one of the most beautiful things I have ever seen. I told my husband that someday I wanted to see the Eisa dancers perform in person.

Eisa

Now we are living in Okinawa and this Sunday is the 10,000 Eisa Dancers Parade in Naha. I have the chance to see one of the largest Eisa performances right at my finger tips. The only problem is I can find little information about the upcoming event. So I did what any curious person would do – I asked around. Our Okinawa Hai manager, Joelle, was kind enough to share her experience.

group_eisa_2

 

When Joelle attended the festival last year, she was accompanied by her mother, her 2-year-old son and her newborn baby. So of course she wanted to park as close as possible. She had never been to Kokuksai Street and looked in vain for parking. Finally she was able to find a parking lot (near Blue Seal ice-cream) with tons of spaces. She was thrilled so she pulled in and got everyone out of the car and ready to go. When she paid the parking attendant he pointed out that now she couldn’t leave. She didn’t realize until then that if she parked on Kokuksai Street she would have to stay until the parade was over!

Joelle decided that rather than pack everything and everyone back up that they would just stay and make a day out of it. It turned out to be a wonderful day. They spent some time watching the parade. Then they enjoyed lunch, playing at the park and shopping with the amazing music in the background. She said she would definitely park on Kokuksai Street again. Here is what she had to say about the parade:

Photo credit: Calyn Paquin
Photo credit: Calyn Paquin

“I had never been to see an Eisa performance before last summer’s 10,000 festival. I knew something about it but had never experienced it close up. And I’ll tell you that when the drummers hit their first beat and began their first song I literally felt my eyes well up with tears. Your body vibrates with the music – it is amazing.”

 So dear readers tell us what are your experience or tips? Will I see you at the 10,000 Eisa Dancer’s Parade on Sunday?


10,000 Eisa Dancers Parade

Date: Sunday, August 7, 2016 (rain date: Sunday, August 14)

Fee: FREE to watch!

Location: Kokusai Street, at the intersection of Psion Square and Palette Kumoji

Address: Naha, Okinawa Prefecture 900-0000, Japan

GPS Coordinates: 26.1972632, 127.66704570000002

Directions: There are many ways to get there, but the easiest is to get to Naha (take the expressway or 58) and follow the signs for Kokusai Street. We usually turn left off of the 58 onto the 42, and then turn left on the second light (this puts you right on Kokusai).
I won’t lie to you, one of Kokusai’s biggest downfall is parking. It’s a bit of a nightmare. However, off Kokusai you can find little privately-run parking areas. All of these will have a fee, most are about 200-500 yen per hour, depending of course on how close you are to the main hub. There’s also public restrooms scattered along the street, little parks, and the monorail has a stop for here. It’s also a short walk from the bus terminal to Kokusai, so if you fancy doing away with the car for the day and save on parking, catching a local bus could be a great option. There’s a handy bus route map here.

16 COMMENTS

  1. I was there too! We parked near Fukushuen Garden which worked out perfect. The performers did great! It rained A LOT, but it at least cooled everyone down. THANKS so much for the information on this!

  2. I went down to this today, Sunday. Thank you for posting this information. I knew vaguely that it was coming up but I had no idea of the specific details. As a geo-bachelor (with lots of spare time as a result), I am always on the look out for good cultural stuff to do. Unfortunately because I live and work on the North end of the island, nothing much goes on up this way that isn’t a decent drive away. I parked on some side streets southwest of where Rt 47 branches off from 58. I found a open lot that didn’t have no parking signs and no where to pay or anything. No spaces were numbered so I figured I was ok there. So it didn’t cost me a thing, other than the Expressway fees down and back. I had a great time, other than the fact that I didn’t bring an umbrella and so I was soaked because it poured the whole afternoon. But I figured if the performers could stand it then so could I. Thanks and keep up the good work.

  3. Bless you! I had already reserved my day to go to this event and didn’t know where I was going to park. It’s good to know there are options. I don’t want to be stuck there so I’ll find a side street. I also may try calling Schilling and see if they have a map or detailed directions for parking since they offer a tour. Thanks for this post!

  4. Bless you! I had already reserved my day to go to this event and didn’t know where I was going to park. It’s good to know there are options. I don’t want to be stuck there so I’ll find a side street. I also may try calling Schilling and see if they have a map or detailed directions for parking since they offer a tour. Thanks for this post!

  5. I’ve gone two years in a row and didn’t have a problem parking either time. The first year we parked in the big underground parking lot under the big government office building. (Turn left off 58 right where Kokusai Street begins…where the big crosswalk is.) I don’t remember the cost, but probably fairly expensive compared to the sidestreet parking. The next year we parked near the Bambohee restaurant across from the Starbucks (a great place to eat/get out of the heat, incidently and kid friendly). But on the little sidestreets running parallel to Kokusai, there are lots of little parking areas too. This festival is my favorite in Okinawa. I liked it more than the tug of war. That was neat too, but there was a lot of waiting around for things to happen. Here it’s just this amazing long parade and I felt free to watch for awhile, take a break and shop (in the air conditioning) for a bit, go back outside again and watch more eisa, go back inside and eat, etc. etc.

    Another restaurant I recommend, by the way (although perhaps less kid friendly than Bambohee) is…hmmm…I don’t remember the name. But you know that Lawson’s in the middle of Kokusai Street? Well, there’s a little alley running next to it w/ a little cafe on the right w/ a rooftop terrace. You can see it from Kokusai St. It’s owned by a female golfer whose name I also don’t remember. It looks very trendy, but the food is really really yummy. My friend said the soba is the best she’s had in Okinawa and she knows her soba.

    PS If you wait till the end of the festival, the beer sold on the streets is half price! At least it was last time. Have fun!

  6. When we last year, it was the same feeling as Joelle. Your eyes fill with emotion especially when you get to see the children that are in enduring int he heat! Amazing, truly!

    As for parking? We parked down one of the side streets of Kokusai. We didn’t want to get stuck there all day so we found a parking lot that was a few blocks down. We were there for about an hour when we realized that they play the same songs over and over again. My poor kid was sizzling in the backpack and so off we went and we snuck out without anyone noticing! Traffic was awesome getting out because everyone else was still watching the parade! BTW we parked on the side of 58. All we had to do is pull out of our parking and take a left and there was 58!

  7. This is what is on the events schedule for the Japan Update…”Aug 1-3 – Naha Summer Festival & 10,000 Eisa Parade – 7 p.m. (Fri), 4 p.m. (Sat) & 3 p.m. (Sun) at Palette Kumoji Square & Kokusai Street, Naha City, admission free” I am not sure which day the parade is on but the festival itself runs all weekend.

    Note that Kadena Services and probably MCCS will offer tours in their magazines to this but you have to pay for the bus ride and I am not sure that it includes anything other than transportation. The event itself is free so if you want to drive down there, the only cost is your own gas and parking.

    I have not been to that specific festival but I have been to other parades on Kokusai Dori and the parking is really not that bad…we usually park on a side street and walk down to the main area. Note, you can probably park at Kinser and cab down as well for cheap…that is what I do for the Naha Haraii since the parking at the port for the races is limited. Anyhow, that is just an option.

  8. A friend of mine yesterday actually recommended parking a few miles away and hopping on a taxi to and from the site if you don’t want to stay all afternoon. It sounds like a great idea so I figured I’d pass it along!

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