Okinawa Event Calendar

January

Shurijo Castle Park New Year's Banquet

This event is a re-enactment of the chohaioshiki (New Year’s ceremony), praying for the prosperity of the Ryukyu Kingdom and conducted on the morning of New Year’s Day. Visitors are offered complimentary liquor or tea for longevity and happiness during the year, and Ryukyuan dances and traditional performances take place.

Chura Shima Okinawa Century Run

This bicycle Tour event will take you to three scenic bridges, Warumi Bridge, Kouri Bridge which overlooks the East China Sea, and Henza Bridge (called Kaichu-Doro) which is a road on shallow water. This is one of the most scenic long ride courses in Japan!

Mt.Yae Cherry Blossom Festival

The Mt.Yae Cherry Blossom Festival features about 7,000 Cherry trees along a three-kilometer mountain road, giving Mt.Yae(463m) a delicate color from base to peak. Sakura-no-Mori Park is located on the mountainside, with a stunning view of Ie Island. The park features a large amount of playground equipment. The festival is a perfect occasion to enjoy a picnic surrounded by the pleasant scent of flowers.

Nago Cherry Blossom Festival

This festival takes place at the Nago Castle ruins (Nago Central Park). A two-kilometer walk is lined with 25,000 cherry blossom tree draped with rose-colored petals, offering you a dream-like experience. Approximately 600 steps from the gateway, a nature observation park features forest walks and birding. Enjoy a panoramic view of Nago City and the beautiful East China Sea from the viewing platform atop the ruins. (*These places can be reached by car)

February

Okinawa International Orchid Expo

A selection of orchids, both indigenous and from overseas. Orchid lovers from inside and outside Japan proudly display their orchids in one place. There are about 10,000 exhibits, including potted plants, cut flower design and more.

The Okinawa Marathon

The race has a varied terrain, starting flat for about 10K before becoming notably more hilly. The steep downhill slope in the last mile is appreciated by many and allows a strong finish.
Runners start and finish in Okinawa Comprehensive Park. The route follows a single loop course, passing through various villages, towns, and cities in central Okinawa. Much of the route will be line with local supporters, many of whom offer water and food to passing runners.

March

Okinawa International Movie Festival

The Okinawa International Movie Festival is an annual Film Festival held in Ginowan City and Naha City. The festival was founded by Japanese century-old comedy-entertainment giant Yoshimoto Kogyo in 2009 and focuses on comedy films from around the world, with the theme of "Laugh & Peace".

It is held each year at the Okinawa Convention Center and Sakurazaka Theater with indoor and outdoor screenings of film premieres and recent movies from Japan and abroad. It also hosts fashion, music and trade shows and has been likened to a Japanese matsuri in atmosphere.

Higashi Village Azalea Festival

 About 50,000 azaleas, where residents raise flowers as carefully as they raise their children. Featured in the program are karate, traditional dance and music performances, and more. Azalea Eco Park next to the garden provides accommodation such as bungalows and car camping spaces.

April

Ryukyu Kaiensai (Fireworks Festival)

Over 9,000 colorful and exciting fireworks brighten the night sky of the southern island causing a magnificent scene reflecting in the clear ocean water. All of this takes places choreographed to music.Japan's first summer fireworks festival at the beach!

All Japan Triathlon Miyakojima

In The Strongman All Japan Triathlon Miyako-jima, held every April on Miyako-jima Island. World class tri-athletes challenge themselves in one of the world’s most severe sports. Participants start the race with a 3km swim, followed by 155km of bicycling, and finish by running 42.195km in a full marathon.

Ishigaki Triathlon

The Ishigaki Triathlon is an important annual event on the international triathlon calendar which attracts top-class professional triathletes from all over the world. It is held in the Tonoshiro port area and takes place on a Sunday in April. Athletes from all over the world come to Ishigaki in the spring to give their best.

Lily Festival on Ie Island (April to May)

One million lilies blanket a big park that measures 86,000 square meters (925,695 square feet), and the view is magnificent . A 30-minute ferry ride will get you from northern Okinawa to Ie Island. Many tourists take a day trip to the island to attend this festival. In mid-December Ie island, also known as the flower island, hosts a festival featuring about 1,100 different kinds of hibiscus in the hibiscus garden. A must-visit place on the island is a rocky hill known as Tacchuu, which overlooks a spectacular panoramic vista.

May

The Naha Dragon-boat Race

The Naha Haarii , held annually during Golden Week, is the biggest haarii competition in Okinawa. Many people come to watch the haarii, and the number of foreign participants is increasing every year. People can take a ride on the dragon boats and enjoy music performances fireworks shows and more for three whole days.

Itoman Haarii (Dragon Boat)

This haarii , held in Itoman City, long a fishing town, boasts a 500-year history and is held every May 4 of the lunar year. The event features boat races in junior high school, general and foreigners` categories and three crowds of spectators reflect the strong local color of uminchu ( fisherman ). Food stalls local color of performances spice up the event all the more.

June

Haarii Festival (Traditional dragon-boat race)

This haarii , held in Itoman City, long a fishing town, boasts a 500-year history and is held every May 4 of the lunar year. The event features boat races in junior high school, general and foreigners` categories and three crowds of spectators reflect the strong local color of uminchu ( fisherman ). Food stalls local color of performances spice up the event all the more.

Miyako Island Rock Festival

Popular bands and hip artists perform at the annual rock festival on Miyako Island. The rock festival is a special welcome to the start of the summer season

July

The Peaceful Love Rock Festival

This music festival has been held every summer since its inception in 1983. It is said to be the oldest annual rock festival in Japan, and rock lovers, often from the mainland, gather for this unique event, which takes place in a bullring. Everyone from young underground bands to rock legends perform for two days running. A must-see for rock fans! Okinawa's biggest music festival! 

Orion Beer Fest in Ishigaki

Organized by Orion Beer, this is a free open-air beer event where visitors can enjoy live music performances by popular Okinawan artists with a glass of beer in hand. The festive atmosphere reaches its climax when beautiful fireworks light up the night sky at the end of the evening.

Ocean Expo Park Summer Festival

Some 10,000 fireworks will impressively light up the night sky. Every year a large number of people show up for one of Okinawa`s biggest fireworks festival and sunset concert where you can enjoy performances by various musical artists.

Sea Port Chatan Carnival

This is a big festival held on a beach in Chatan Town for two consecutive days. Attendees can enjoy many programs, including raft and dragon boat race, music performances, fireworks displays and more.

Urasoe Tedako Festival

“Tedako ” means “son of the sun” in the Okinawa dialect and was the nickname for the king during the Ryukyu Kingdom era. Traditional dance, eisa , fireworks and many other events will be held.

Nago Summer Festival

More than 60 stores and restaurants are set up in this summer festival, which also includes live music performances during the daytime, and fireworks by night.  More than 1,000 pyrotechnics, including new large-size fireworks and a star mine, will be launched as the evening finales.

August

The Ginowan Hagoromo Festival

This two-day summer festival is held in Ginowan City. Some 300 participants are dressed up in traditional garb and parade near the gate of the Okinawa Convention Center. Numerous events are scheduled, and a must-see is a powerful Japanese drum performance. Everyone enjoys kachaashii (Ryukyuan folk dance) to Ryukyuan folk music throughout the festival.

10,000 people Eisa Dance Parade/Summer Festival in Naha

A Grand Eisa Parade on Kokusai Street. Many young reams perform eisa on kokusai street, the main avenue of Naha City. If you have paid a fee and participated in the practice, you can be part of the exciting parade!

The Yonabaru Great Tug of War

It is said that “The Yonabaru Tug Of War Festival” started in the time of King “Shoei” of Ryukyu Kingdom (1573~1588). It is a festival during which people pray to God for a good harvest. People celebrate the crop of the previous year by combination of two ropes divided into east and west, and divine rich or poor harvest by the result. The rope is 90 meters long and weighs about 5 tons.

The moment the rope is joined together, the locking pole -kanachi- entered, and it hits against the ground, this tug of war starts. Teams take to the offense and defense while pulling each other’s rope from east and west.
It is said that persons participating in the tug of war receive god’s blessings, such as being healthy and gaining prosperity.

 

September

The All-Okinawa Eisa Festival

The annual All-Okinawa Eisa Festival is the celebration at which eisa groups from around the island gather and perform their dances. In Okinawa, you can tell when summer is approaching by the sounds of eisa drums that suddenly appear out of nowhere in the evening. Local youth teams throughout the island start practicing for the biggest eisa festival in early summer. In a nearby open space the Koza Orion Beer Fest is held, and people enjoy a long summer night dancing and drink copious quantities of beer. You can`t afford to miss it.

Itoman Great Tug of War

 Itoma City, as known as the city of uminchu (fishermen), hosts a tug-of-war to pray for a good harvest and a bountiful catch. It is held on Route 331, where the East and West teams pull a 180m(590 feet) rope. A michi junee (costume) parade takes place before the tug-of-war starts.

Youth Eisa Festival

Youth groups from all over the country perform dynamic eisa to the sound of drums. There are numerous programs, including shishimai (lion) dance, martial art bojutsu and dance performances, with a fireworks show at the finale. Visitors can enjoy powerful, one-of-a-kind eisa performances by different youth teams representing various neighborhoods in Yomitan Village

All-Island Lion Dance Festival

The lion dance casts out evil and brings prosperity to every area of Okinawa. Many lion dance teams get together from all over Japan and put on a spectacular show for this event.

October

The Naha Great Tug of War Festival

This event has taken place since the 1600s. The huge 200m(656 feet), 40-ton rope is registered in the Guinness World Records. This dynamic event will be held on Highway 58, the main route in Okinawa, with 280,000 people in attendance. Eisa, lion dances and a parade are also on the program.

The 12th All-Island Hatagashira Festival

The festival features Okinawa's traditional "eisa" dance, various regions' folk dance parade, and booths, in which many countries' products and culture are introduced. Consequently, by mixing each other's cultures. Immerse yourself in Okinawan culture and world's performing arts!

Shurijo Castle Festival

Held in autumn, this is one of the biggest annual events on Okinawa. Starting with a departure ceremony at the Seiden, a grand procession in brilliant period dress recreates the Ryukyu Kingdom picture scroll procession. In three groups — the king and queen’s procession, the envoys’ procession and the traditional arts procession — a throng of more than a thousand people parade along Kokusai Street. At the same time, kumiodori and other traditional dances are performed on a stage erected at the castle park.

The Shishi-mai (Lion Dance) Festival

The Shishimai Festival taking place at the Uruma City Agena Bullfight Arena Sunday evening beginning at 6 p.m. is free, and worth making time to experience. The lion dance is a dance to keep the bad spirits away and bring good fortune. This dance is commonly done Aug. 15th of the Chinese calendar, which coincides with Sunday. Shi-Shi-Mai dancers from all corners of Okinawa gather to showcase their dynamic moves.

Okinawa Industrial Festival

Many original Okinawa products, such as traditional crafts and the Okinawan style of aloha shirts, known as kariyushi wear, are on display in one place. This is the biggest industrial exhibit in Okinawa. People are able to look at these products and purchase them when they find something that catches their fancy.

Uruma Festival

This festival started in 2005, the year after four municipalities in the central part of Okinawa were consolidated to form Uruma City. The first day features music performances, and the second day, entertainment music performances, and the second day, entertainment such as dance-play “Amwari” by local students along with eisa. A bullfight, fireworks and many other events are scheduled for this two-day festival.

November

Tour de Okinawa

The Tour de Okinawa is an annual professional road bicycle racing classic one-day race held in Okinawa Prefecture. It was first started in 1989 as an amateur race, but became professional in 1999. It became part of the UCI Asia Tour in 2005. Until 2007, it was a one-day race, billing itself as the longest single-day course in Japan, but was transformed into a two-day stage race in 2008, its UCI category changing from 1.2 to 2.2. In 2008, the first day was a criterium, but from 2009, it was changed to a time trial run on the streets of Nago. The 2010 edition extended the second stage to 210 kilometers. The 2012 edition again returned to a single-day event.

Yanbaru is the stage for Okinawa's biggest cycling Road Race

Okinawa International Carnival/Gate 2 Festival

The first day of the festival features a carnival parade that reflects the international character of Okinawa City, where more than 30 different nationalities live and work. Participants from various countries present their cultures through performances in the parade. On the second day motorcycle riders from all over the country assemble on Koza Gate Street, which will be closed to traffic and packed with some 200 bikes. A great tug-of –war, rock concert and dance performance are also in the lineup.

Yomitan Festival

About 300 lovers of traditional music gather from around the village and perform classical Ryukyu music to praise Akainko,a fictitious character who is said to be the father of sanshin music. Traditional dance, bojutsu, lion daces and original plays are also performed during the festival.

 

December

The Naha Marathon

The NAHA Marathon is now one of the premier sports events of Japan. This “Festival of Sun, Ocean and Joggers” started in 1985 as a commemoration of the 25th anniversary of the sister city bond between Naha and Honolulu. Each Marathon has provided a forum to promote ties and friendship for domestic and international interaction. The course, with The Peace Prayer and Memorial Park at its mid-point, is a full 42.195km long.

The Mabuni Fire & Bell Observance

This is a ceremonial event held from New Year`s Eve through New Year`s Day. The ceremony honors the memory of victims who lost their lives during the war, and attendees pray for world peace. A flame is lit when the bell rings at midnight.