History of the Festival

Ever since the establishment of the Okinawa Prefectural Seinendan Council (OPSC) in 1948, we have been committed in handling the regional issues head-on, striving to be a group of young men and women who contribute to the development of the local regions. We have conducted a broad range of activities for the development of our society, industries, culture and sports, with the aim of deepening solidarity among the younger adults.

The centerpiece of our cultural activities is the Seinen Furusato Eisa Festival, where we launch full-scale efforts to bring together folk performing arts handed down from our forefathers of various regions. We are working introduce the distinctive arts to the people of the prefecture, and to preserve these arts that are unique to each of the regions. At the same time, we contribute to the creation and development of new and different styles of the art.

This event began in 1964, the same year as the Tokyo Olympic Games which is said to have triggered the rapid economic growth period of Japan. Of all the folk traditional arts in Okinawa, the eisa and bon-odori are succeeded mainly by the younger generations, and they were selected as the feature performing arts of the event dubbed “The 1st All Okinawa Seinen Eisa Contest.”

The backdrop of this significant event lay The backdrop of this significant event lay in the complicated Okinawan society at the time, which was under the administration of the U.S. With the excitement of the Olympic Games soaring in mainland Japan, the younger Okinawans, with their youthful enthusiasm, were looking to bring about an event just as inspiring to the people of the prefecture.

Since then, the festival has been held 46 times. Every year, the festival has enjoy increasing popularity and success, it has not changed in the fact that it is an event created and led by the seinendan, the group consisting of young men and women. However, we have seen positive changes where the festival has adapted to the changing times in response to the changing demands of the times.

From the 1st to the 10th events, the festival was a competition, rating the groups in their formation, performance and musical accompaniment. As a result, these events garnered much acclaim in contributing to heightening the art of Eisa from a local, door-to-door performance art to a spectacular group formation dance, fascinating the audience with the essence and allure of the Eisa performance.

From the 11th event, the format was renewed from a contest to a festival. In addition to Eisa, the featured performance art was also expanded, which brought in unique regional folk entertainment for harvest festivals and other festivities. From the 14th event, the festival positioned and itself with the name “Youth Regional Performing Arts Convention ,” and extended the event to two days, where regional performance arts were featured on the first day and Eisa, on the second day.

Since then, the event has gone through a number of name changes, from “All Okinawa Seinen Eisa Contest” to “Seinen Eisa Summer Festival,” “Seinen Eisa Festival,” “ Seinen Furusato Festival,” and finally, since the 18th event, to what it’s known today, “Seinen Furusato Eisa Festival.” Since the 14th event, the venue has been unchanged, held annually at Ounoyama Athletic Park.

In the 15th event, taking the momentum of the Year of the Child, we introduced children’s Eisa performance. Additionally, from the 30th event, original performances were added which were newly created by the younger generations and saw great advances in what was dubbed “The Seinen Cultural Festival.”

The OPSC sees the Festival as an opportunity to strengthen the organization and promote the seinendan. We have continued to select and send winning teams and outstanding participating groups to the National Seinen Convention. Before the reversion of Okinawa to Japan in 1967, the Akano Seinenkai of then Gushikawa traveled on foot to various places in Japan after the National Convention, interacting and exchanging with regional seinen groups. Their efforts in reaching out and calling for the rehabilitation of post-war Okinawa are particularly notable.

From the 14th to the 24th events, the festivals played an important role for the seinendan in the prefecture, in providing them an opportunity to promote the need for the Okinawa Prefecture Seinen Kaikan Hall. As part of the fundraising efforts to construct this Hall in commemoration of the 35th anniversary of the OPSC, the Festival collected donations for admissions and many Okinawans contributed. It was the generosity of the people that construction of the Okinawa Prefecture Seinen Kaikan Hall was realized, with the total construction costs reaching over 600 million yen.

This event was originally managed by the young people that assembled for the OPSC, but from the 15th and 17th events, Okinawa Times and Ryukyu Broadcasting Corp., respectively, came together as hosting bodies. With these media outlets as hosts, the event was publicized prior to its holding as well as television coverage during the festival. This resulted in the flourishing success of this festival, and it has become an irreplaceable event in Okinawa.

Seinen (Youth) Furusato Eisa Festival Executive Committee (Okinawa Prefectural Seinendan Council)
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