Saturday, November 6, 2010

Ryukyu Kingdom Festival Parade

Sunday October 31st marked the beginning of this year’s Ryukyu Kingdom Festival. It was only a few short weeks ago that we covered the Great Tsunahiki “tug-o-war” in Naha. That time we were able to find a relatively unobstructed observation point well above the madding crowd so this time, we decided to see if we could accomplish the same feat.

We looked up and down Kokusai “International” street on which the grand parade, a recreation of the royal procession of the Ryukyu King and Queen would take place and spotted a second level balcony in front of a souvenir shop. It was on the opposite side of the street than where we would have liked to have been and we were worried about the angle of the sun affecting our shots but it was close to noon and if the sun was directly overhead, we felt it probably wouldn’t give us too much glare.

 We walked up stairs and asked the manager of the store if it was OK and he said yeah. Unfortunately this is Okinawa and that means everything runs on what the locals know as “Okinawa Time!” Okinawa time is a result of the laid back atmosphere of the island culture. Things will happen eventually so don’t get your panties in a wad. For example, if you were waiting for the 2 O’clock bus, just plan to keep waiting if it’s late, it will eventually get there and who knows, one day it may even be on time.

So the parade finally got to where we were waiting and we were glad that we had a spot well above all the crowds. We’ve done the low angle street level shots before and it’s always a pain in the “you know what” when you’re setting up your tripod, have your shutter release in hand, you get your aperture and shutter speed set and are ready to squeeze off that perfectly composed shot only to have some terrorist, aka tourist with a $5.00 disposable camera step right in front of you.

After the King and Queen as well as the dignitaries passed by, we were ready to show our support for the local farmers i.e. have a smoke and something to drink. Kokusai Street is now mostly a “No Smoking” area so we had to go to one of the handful of designated areas. Just as we were heading across the street, the dance troupes came by. We stayed for a few more photos and since we were near the end of the parade route, the crazies aka terrorists weren’t too bad.
The festival this year seemed to be a little shorter than in past years. I’m almost certain that has to do with the down economy. On Wednesday the 3rd of November, the players in this day’s events all gathered up at Shuri Castle to do it again. I wasn’t able to attend due to work but “Ryukyu” Mike was. He has some pretty interesting photos posted at his blog. You can see them by clicking on the link to his post provided (HERE).

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