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Traditional New Year’s celebration at Shurijo Castle Park

This is a very traditional New Year’s event in Okinawa that can’t be missed, especially if you are looking to fully immerse yourself into the ceremonious atmosphere of Japanese New Year’s holidays. Highlights of this three-day event from Jan. 1-3 include a re-enactment of the New Year’s celebration during the days of the Ryukyu Kingdom, traditional Okinawan music and dance performances, and free amazake and tea offered to visitors.

Having served as the royal residence and also the headquarters of the kingdom, Shurijo Castle has borne witness to the history, including the rise and fall, of the Ryukyu Kingdom. The Shurijo Castle Park New Year’s Celebration is the perfect way to experience the colorful and gorgeous ambience of Shurijo Castle as it was during the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

 

Shurijo Castle Park New Year’s Celebration
Date: Wednesday-Friday, Jan. 1-3, 2014
Place: Shurijo Castle Park (Una is located in the park’s paid area, and Shicha-nu-Una is in the free area.)

 

Program

1. Classic music performance
Date: Wednesday-Friday, Jan. 1-3, 2014
Place: Una in Shurijo Castle Park’s paid area

Uzagaku — a type of chamber music heard during the time of the Ryukyu Kingdom — welcomes visitors to the New Year’s celebration. Uzagaku was originally developed for the purpose of entertaining Chinese envoys visiting the Ryukyu Kingdom, and it’s reminiscent of traditional Chinese music. Uzagaku declined in importance followed by the fall of the Ryukyu Kingdom, and this is an extremely rare opportunity to appreciate uzagaku played right before your very eyes.

 

2. Chohai-Okishiki
Date: Wednesday-Thursday, Jan. 1-2, 2014
Place: Una in Shurijo Castle Park’s paid area
This is a three-part New Year’s ceremony bringing to mind the good old days of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

First part: Ninufa-Nunufe
Time: 10:00-10:25
A re-enactment of the prayer ceremony held during the Ryukyu Kingdom era when people of all ranks and classes, including the king, royal family, royal servants and representatives of commoners, came together, celebrated the arrival of the new year and prayed for peace and tranquility in the coming year.

Second part: Cho-Nunufe
Time: 10:50-11:00
This part is a re-enactment of a traditional Ryukyu Kingdom ritual where the common people prayed for the king’s long life and the kingdom’s long-lasting prosperity.

Third part: Otori
Time: 11:25-11:50
A traditional ceremony attended by the king and his vassals in which they passed a large cup of sake around and drank from it in turn, praying for the continued prosperity of the king, the prince and other members of the royal family.

For three days from Jan. 1 through 3, visitors can enjoy elegant dance performances that take place on the stage installed in Shicha-nu-Una (free area), including the classical court dance of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

Hot amazake – a sweet and creamy beverage made from fermented rice traditionally enjoyed on auspicious occasions in Japan — is served free to visitors.


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