This is a typical traditional festival in Iriomote, being grandly held at Sonai and Hoshitate Villages. It has a history for more than 500 years, being made at about the beginning of October in the old calendar every year. Since the festivals of Sonai and Hoshitate are carried out at the same time of the same day, we cannot observe the both ones. Events of the festival are made for three days, an event called "yuukui" on the second day is worth seeing because the events of "hatagashira-tate (monument displaying)", "funi-kugi (boat rowing)", "bojutsu (art of fighting with a cudgel)" and miruku parade are carried out continuously. The miruku appeared here which has an humorous appearance is the god of harvest and the symbol of happiness in Okinawa.
The pictures shown above were taken by Mr. Hiroshi Mizumachi who lives in Tokyo on 4th, October, 2001 at Sonai and were favorably offered. Since copy right of all the pictures belongs to him, when you want to reprint, contact with him directly.
Akamata at Komi
This is a festival held in around July of every year at Komi Village, being a mysterious and dignified traditional event in which the details are not informed for the people except those in that village. During the period of Akamata, people of the other villages hesitate to enter Komi. Although it seems to be hard to observe this festival, we would hope to have an opportunity to observe it.
Densaa Festival at Uehara
This is not a traditional festival but a festive event which is held at Uehara Village every year. Date of the festival can be changed by year, for instance, it was in October in 2000 and in June in 2001. There is a stone monument to indicate the birthplace of a traditional folk song of "densaa-bushi" at the backyard of Kanpira-so, just next to that, there is a stage for the densaa festival. There, all of the people of the village perform some entertainment on the day. Of course, all of the staffs of Kanpira-so and our helpers (part time workers) participate it and they demonstrate a dance, sanshin (a traditional musical instrument in Okinawa) and traditional folk songs on which they usually practice.
Views of the densaa festival which was held in October, 2000. Since it began to rain in the afternoon of the day, the festival site was in haste to be changed into Uehara Hall. The left picture shows helpers of Kanpira-so who play the sanshin and sing a song.
Painushima festival is a festive event that is grandly held in four years intervals. Many participants come to the festival not only from Iriomote but also from the other islands in Yaeyama. It is carried out in late August at Ohara. As it was held in 1997 and 2001, respectively, the next time will be in 2005.
I observed the Painushima festival in 1997, it was very enjoyable because there were performing arts such as eisaa (a traditional dance in Okinawa), some entertainment by local talents and some attraction such as competitions of beer drinking and pineapple holding. There were many stalls around the festival site, even including that from Kohama Island. The most impressive one for me was a live concert by a Okinawan band of Parsha Club, I fell in a fan of them after I experienced their performance then. Parsha Club is a popular band in Okinawa, that plays some CM songs of Orion Beer. The ending of the festival was decorated with fireworks and there was a traffic jam in the road of Ohara because of many cars which would go back home. Although I had visited Iriomote many times, it was the first time to see the traffic jam.
Playing of the Japanese drums Brave eisaa (Okinawan traditional dance)
An attraction, a competition of pineapple holding. To be the winner, they have to hold more pineapples. Helpers team of Kanpira-so (left picture) won. A concert by Parsha Club. The audience was very excited in standing. The main vocal was by Yukito Ara who was from Ishigaki.
Densaa-bushi Contest at Uehara
A singing contest which is held in September of every year to compete to sing a traditional folk song of densaa-bushi. Most of the participants sing with a sanshin (a traditional musical instrument in Okinawa) by themselves and technique of the sanshin is also evaluated.
Beginning from 1994, it was held in the western part of Iriomote in every February. There are three courses of 3Km, 10km, 23km, starting from Uehara Elementary School at Nakano, in case of the longest course, going to Shirahama and back to the starting point. Many people participate in this marathon not only from Iriomote but also from the other islands in Okinawa and from the Japanese main islands, and it makes the marathon very successful. For the detailed information, see the official Web site of the yamanoko marathon (but with regrets, it is in Japanese).