Mura Odori, literally means dance festival of village community, takes place in most rural communities and smaller islands throughout Okinawa. This particular festival took place in a community called Makiya in northern part of Okinawa in September.
In this community, like other communities in the prefecture, has a sacred area called "Ashagi" where divine entities are entertained with the dance performance dedicated by the locals. The stage faces a hill that stands at the back of the community where gods or the spirits of the remote ancestors reside to offer blessings and good harvests.
Locals gather in the evening and each donate money for the event. The space is filled with many people including the residents living within the community and the natives who now live in urban areas in the southern part of the island.
Shishi-Mai, or dance of lion, is popular throughout Asia. For those of you who have observed Lion Dance in China, you many notice the lion looks a lot different, appearing to be wilder and primitive.(Sorry, the photo is too dark.) This is kids' favorite; small children gather before the stage and try to touch the beast to prove themselves of bravery. Still the same scene as I did a few decades ago.
Two of professional dances; they are trained at a dance school. Countless number of traditional music and dance schools still exist in Okinawa. This is why Mura Odori is not limited to certain parts of the island but held in almost all communities each year.