The Shinjuku Eisa Festival Comes Alive With Dancing, Drumming & Food

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Right outside Shinjuku Station in Tokyo’s very alive, colorful and cultural district of the city named after the station – Shinjuku. The city streets are alive with color not in the same way that New York’s Time Square and London’s Picadilly Circus are, with their brightly lit colored billboard signs, bars and restaurants on every corner that are open until the wee hours of the morning.

I randomly came across the annual Shinjuku Eisa Festival by accident as I was walking through Tokyo’s streets this past summer. This colorful festival has all kinds of flavors from Okinawa – with dancing, drumming, and of course, food. Eisa is a form of folk dance from the southern islands, and is usually performed by young men and women accompanied by singing, dancing and drumming, and even folk songs played on the sanshin. Eisa was traditionally performed around obon to honour ancestor’s spirits, but these days it’s just another excuse to celebrate.

The parade featured dancers swaying across the Shinjuku roads wearing eye-catching, bright costumes, and playing portable taiko drums. The matsuri had roughly over 20 dance troupes from all over the country (Okinawa and Tohoku included) who took part in this noisy, intoxicating celebration. Thousands of people watched the procession along with me on the already busy streets of Shinjuku. Note that the sushi and noodle bars are fabulous in this part of the city.

Below is a video I shot during the performance:

For more posts on Japan, see our Japan section and on Tokyo, visit our Tokyo Japan / top things to do in Tokyo section.

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