JAPAN TRAVEL: Haiya Dance, A Summer Festival Performance in Kumamoto
More than Japan’s rich cuisine, spectacular natural scenery, and bustling cities, Japan is also rich in tradition. In Kyushu, they welcome summer through a performance of the Haiya Dance.
Students of Amakusa Takushin Hgh School perform the Haiya Dance
The Haiya dance is performed in Amakusa at the end of July to early August during summer. In this festival, more than 3,000 people gather along the streets in bright and colorful kimonos to dance.
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The Ushibuka Haiya dance has been present since the Edo Period and is said to be the origin of all other Haiya dance variations all over Japan. The lyrics of the Japanese folk song tell about the sailors and sea travel. The world “Haiya” was derived from the southern wind that is important so boats can sail up North. In the past, sailors and women danced and sang merrily together, thus the birth of this tradition.
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In 1948, the said festival was named “Minato Festival,” a celebration for fishermen’s abundant catch. After 24 years, it was renamed to Ushibuka Haiya Festival. Now onto their 48th year, Haiya Dance is still a part of the big summer event that is the Amakusa Hondo Haiya Festival.
Location: Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture, Japan
Contact: +81-969-23-2001 (Amakusa Hondo Haiya Festival Organization Committee)
This first appeared in Philippine Primer magazine Vol. 34 – February 2019 issue.