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Sakishima seasonal folk festivals

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The Sakishima or Yaeyama Islands in the southern portion of the Ryukyu Islands chain celebrate a number of festivals relating to the planting, growth, and harvest of rice across the year.

Rice-planting begins early in the year on Iriomote, Ishigaki, and the surrounding islands, often in the first lunar month. The Tanadui (種子取祭) festival takes place shortly afterward, in the 1st or 2nd months. Taketomi Island's Tanadui festival is one of the most popular tourist events in Okinawa prefecture, and is a key element of Taketomi's repeated selection as one of the best places in all of Japan for experiencing "traditional culture."

Around the 4th month, prayers for the crops' growth are performed, and in many Iriomote communities, prayers, hand-clapping, or music are performed for the crops for the following two months or so, to help encourage their growth. In the 6th month, the first crops begin to be harvested. The end of the harvest is celebrated in the 7th month, with a festival known as murapûru or murapûri (豊年祭), and the changeover to a new year's crop is celebrated in the 9th or 10th months, in a festival known as shichi (節祭). In many communities on Ishigaki Island, this shichi festival features figures dressed as the deity mayun ganashi going from house to house chanting words of prayer for the growth of the crops. On Iriomote, many communities send rowboats or canoes out into the distance across the ocean, towards nirai kanai (the land of the gods), in order to meet the gods and welcome them back to the island.

References

  • Gallery labels, National Museum of Japanese History.[1][2]
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