Monday, August 2, 2010

10,000 Eisa dancers, fish markets, and yummy food!

The Eisa dance is one of the many examples of the many cultural differences between Okinawa and the rest of Japan. Eisa is a dance with a long history in Okinawa. It comes from a folk song that was sung years ago. The dance style was passed down by groups of young people who paid respect to ancestors by marching through their neighborhoods and playing the taiko drum. The rhythms and movements are accompanied by the beating of the drum and a beautiful dance. Today, many shows are held where people gather to watch the Eisa. One of the largest of these shows is the 10,000 Eisa Dance Parade in Naha.

Today was an absolutely beautiful Okinawian day, so we decided to celebrate by making our way down to Naha to go to the 10,000 Eisa dancer festival. We went down with the Coats and Jones families to watch this beautiful celebration. On the way down, we crammed the Coats car with the two of us, their family of 5, and a friend of theirs. I played a few games of old maid (with little mermaid cards) with Cannon and London (I one one round). After our games were over, Emmy (the youngest of the Coats children) decided she wanted my engagement ring. She put it on and I can swear it almost fit her! She then refused to give it back until we got the the festival. I think she liked wearing it because it was from Dima. She seems to have a thing for my husband. Here she is showing off "her" rock.

When we arrived to Kokasai street, it was packed with lots of people, which is never great when it's over 100 degrees out, humid, and you're pregnant. But I sucked it up and went on to enjoy our time. We got to stand by one of the famous beniimo stores (they are these famous sweet potatoes that are purple. They are very popular here and are made into all kinds of things from cookies, to ice cream flavors, to being cooked in your meals) that had samples inside for us to eat in between dances. The festival was very organized. They had a bunch of groups of dancers come one group at a time to a big X marked in the street to perform. The shows started every 5 minutes or so. It was pretty cool because you could watch one show, go inside to cool down, and then come back out to watch another just a minute or so later. I mostly took videos that I will include in this post, but I did take a few photos as well. Here are some of my favorite photos compiles from my camera.

I have come to realize that I have taken for granted how unique it is to live in Japan. I see things everyday that I have grown accustomed to here in Okinawa, that were very odd when I first arrived. For one, I suppose I have grown used to their beer drinking habits. This guy was creative enough to strap a backpack of beer onto his back and sell it for 5o0 yet a beer! How cool is that?! I wish I could have had one! A nice cold Orion would have been nice on a hot Okinawian day! Oh well... guess i'll have to wait until February for one of those!After seeing a few of the dancers, we decided we were bored and wanted to walk a little. We made our way down to this one side street where we explored some of the shops and made our way into a really neat fish market. It looked so yummy and I really wish i couldve gotten the freshest sushi ever (they literally filleted, and cut up the fish in front of you and gave you yummy sashimi.) We saw some really cool stuff at the market.

Here is Louise ordering our dinner! This is what Louise ended up ordering for our dinner... Parrot fish! Yumm!
This is a yummy looking red snapper! Maybe next time I will order some and grill it out back!
This is a stone fish... they are so ugly, but apparently yummy to eat. A woman was ordering one and the nice lady who worked there let us all stand around and take photos.
Pork is a huge thing in Okinawa. It is cooked into most Okinawian dishes (soba for example) and a bunch of other famous Okinawian foods. When walking around Kokasai street, you can see just how much they love to kill and eat pork. Here is Porky the Pig himself... (the last thing he said was "That's all folks!")

After we left the festival, we went back home and were invited to have dinner with the Coats family. We first stopped at the store to pick up some of our own Japanese food to share, since they were sharing their yummy parrot fish and lots of other food. We picked up some of the traditional yummy Tepayaki, which is pork or chicken on a stick with some yummy Japanese sauce. Louise made some amazing Miso soup and sticky rice for us to use to make our own sushi. She cut up avocado, cucumbers, and had some sashimi out for us to use to make our sushi. Of course I couldn't have any of the raw fish (grr!) but I made do with some veggie sushi. We had a great meal with some great company, we are so lucky to have such great friends and neighbors! It makes living overseas so much better!