a fishermen's festival off Henza Island

April 13, 2023

Sangwachaa is a festival peculiar to Henza Island. A noro priestess prays for uminchu (fishermen) to enjoy a good catch and for their safety
while at sea. A “fish-stabbing” ceremony takes place which by most accounts represents the harpooning of large fish or maybe even a whale.

The entire community shows up for the festivities that begin around midday. After the initial onshore ceremony concludes, shimanchu(island villagers),
some wearing bizarre costumes parade through the village of Yonashirohenza, down to the shore then out to the sacred rock called Nanja.
That procession is called Nanzamoi. The ceremonies and partying which includes ample awamori goes on into the hours well beyond sunset.

I participated in the parade across the sea to Nanja. At low tide, the villagers cross 300 meters across the ocean to the rock,
some carrying banners while older kids carry large fish models upon palanquins.
Atop Nanja, the noro conducts Worship of Nanja prayers followed by traditional folk music and cliffside dancing.
Chopped pieces of tako (octopus) are distributed among all of the participants.

Other videos from my 2023 trip to Okinawa are here

See lots more about my Previous Okinawa trips -

You can read extensive details of many other Okinawa visits in my book, "NATSUKASHII: Uchinaa nu Umui"

Learn Okinawa's history with my book, "Timeline: OKINAWA"

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Posted Dec 23, 2023. Contact: