July 20, 2008

Nakano Chample Festa

Every year in mid-late July there is the Nakano Chample Festa, a festival that has been taking place for 30 or 40 years. Goya chample is an Okinawan dish and eisa is an Okinawan dance, and it seems that some Tokyo residents originally from Okinawa decided to maintain some Okinawan traditions in the capital. So a bit like the Notting Hill Carnival, though the distances from the original culture to the festival location aren't so great and the scale is somewhat smaller.

Usually there is a stage in front of the huge SunPlaza building where the eisa groups perform and there are several stalls in the vicinity selling goya chample, beef skewers, fried noodles, juice and beer as well as festival T-shirts and so on.

As well as performing on the main stage, each eisa group takes part in a procession, dancing up and down the pedestrianised streets that run north of Nakano Station, and there are judging stations and at the end of the festival the grand prix is awarded to the best group.

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