Yaese Lion Dance Group, Okinawa
Back in the Ryūkyū Kingdom era, the lords were often called affectionately as Ganashi. Yaese people also show their respect by annexing Ganashi to Lions, as they considered lions are protectors of the island from misfortunes and unhappiness. In Yaese city, when performing during the August Harvest Moon Festival, lion dancers would hold signs depicting charaters meaning “bumper harvest” or “no diseases, no disasters” expressing people's wishes. Choshitahaku is recorded as the village with longest history of Lion worship, which dated back some 300 years ago.
"The cheering lions" is a lively performance that characterizes the lion dance. In this performance, the head dancer will stand on the knee of the tail dancer, then they will take turn to switch position swiftly.
Lion dance has been associated to the life of local inhabitants as they believe that it could prevent diseases, bring in good harvests all year round. Regardless of its various origins, most of the lion dances appeared after tragic events such as diseases and starvation during a period when food was scarce and health care was underdeveloped.
In an attempt to restore and preserve ancient lion dances, local choreographers have been trained and invested in order to maintain and develop this art form. Lion dance brings people closer together through performances and contributes to preservation of local culture.
During Hue Festival 2018, Tomoyose and Choshitahaku Lion dance troupes from Yaesu city of Okinawa prefecture will be performing together with Thai Nghi Duong Lion dance group from Hue.