Juri Uma Festival in Naha

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Juri Uma Festival is considered as one of three main festivals in the city of Naha and is held in Tsuji area on the 20th of January in the lunar calendar. Today, the ceremonies and rituals are still conducted on that day as a part of the New Year celebration, but the dance festival is held in the mid-March.

This year’s festival was held last Sunday, but unfortunately, the rain forced the event to move to indoors. Tsuji’s famous traditional style Okinawan restaurant, which provided its space for the festival, was jam-packed by the locals and tourists.

Historically, Tsuji has been an adult entertainment area, and the women who worked as “entertainers” were called Juri. Although they have been considered simply as prostitutes, they were highly skilled artists in music and dance as well. Since most of them were daughters of peasants, they would most likely have no prior experience of playing sanshin or classical dancing.

Tsuji’s entertainment area was founded by women and was run by almost exclusively by women. Juri Uma Festival is held every year as a prayer for the peaceful repose of the souls of those women. I’ll write about the festival more later.

Anyway, because this year’s festival was held inside, it was hard for me to make any decent images. So, I decided to just enjoy the show besides making a few shots.

You can check out my photos from the previous years to see how the festival looks like HERE.

March 2017
Naha, Okinawa


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