Listed among Japan’s Important Intangible Folk Cultural Properties, Tarama Island’s Hachigatsu Odori is a traditional festival that dates back more than 300 years. The festival is hosted by the island’s two residential communities. With public schools closed for the event, all the residents of the island are able to enjoy the festival from 10:00 to 20:00 for three days straight.
Though the origins of the festival are unclear, people who suffered heavily from the introduction of a poll tax levied on the Saikishima Islands, an archipelago that includes Miyako and Ishigaki islands, made the festival an annual event for reporting the tax payment as well as serving as an opportunity to pray for a bumper crop. People possibly eased the pain of the tax by performing dances in front of an altar and by enjoying the celebration.
A festival as long as the Hachigatsu Odori is rarely seen today in Japan. Over 20 programs, including dance, a Kyogen play and Kumi Odori, are performed during the event. Tarama is two-hour ferry ride from Miyako Island.
Date: Wednesday-Friday, Sept. 27-29, 2017
Place: Utabaru Ugan and Pitomata Ugan