February 22, 2019

Kumiodori 300th Anniversary

Filed under: news — Tags: — okinawacollection @ 10:00 AM

To celebrate the 300th anniversary of kumiudui (or kumuodori in standard Japanese) in Okinawa, a special Ryukyuan dance will be performed at Kyoto Art Theater Shunūza studio 21 on February 23, 2019.

300th anniversary of kumiudui

Kumiodori 300th Anniversary
Ryukyuan Dance and Kumiodori at Shunjuza

  • 23 February 2019, Saturday
  • Kyoto Art Theater Shunjuza
  • From 2 PM; Theater opens 1:30PM
  • With [Buyō] Miyagi Noho, [Uta/Sanshin] Nishie Kishun, [Taiko] Higa Satoshi and others

Presented by Kyoto Performing Arts Center at Kyoto University of Art and Design, and National Theater Okinawa
Supported by the Agency for Cultural Affairs, Government of Japan, and Okinawa Prefecture



  • 第一部 琉球舞踊
  • 第二部 組踊「孝行の巻」

Video clip from Kyoto Art Theater, published on Apr 25, 2016.

About kumiudui/kumiodori/組踊

“Kumiodori was created by the Dance Magistrate Tamagusuku Chokun (1684-1734) and was first performed in order for Sho Kei, the thirteenth king of the second Sho dynasty, to entertain the sappōshi[冊封使] in 1719.

Chokun wrote Shushin-kaneiri, Nido-tekiuchi, Mekarushi, Onna-monogurui and koko−no-maki, which are called the five works of Chokun.
The impression formed on the sapposhi who were watching kumiodori for the first time was deep, and, following that occasion, kumiodori became the centre around which dance programmes were organized as coronation performing arts. Such programmes were the ones to be staged on the occasion of a new king receiving investiture, so their contents had to be worthy of the occasion. Kumiodori, the main element of the programme, was something of which Ryukyu was proud, and thus it came to be designated the national drama.”

Source: http://kumiodori.jp/E-kumiodori/index.html, last accessed on February 21, 2019.

UNESCO’s Intangible Cultural Heritage site explains kumiodori as follows:

“Kumiodori is a Japanese performing art found on the Okinawa islands. It is based upon traditional Okinawan music and dance, but also incorporates elements from mainland Japan, such as Nogaku or Kabuki, as well as from China. Kumiodori dramas recount local historical events or legends, accompanied by a traditional three-stringed instrument. The phrases have a particular rhythm, based upon traditional poetry and the distinctive intonation of the Ryukyu scale, and are performed in the ancient language of Okinawa. The physical movements of the performers evoke those of a pythoness at traditional rituals of ancient Okinawa. All parts are performed by male actors, and techniques unique to Okinawa can be seen in the methods of hair-dressing, costumes and decorations used on stage. The need to strengthen transmission motivated Kumiodori performers to establish the Traditional Kumiodori Preservation Society, which trains performers, revives discontinued dramas, and carries out performances on a regular basis. In addition to classical works that emphasize themes of loyalty and filial duty, new dramas have been produced with modern themes and choreography, but retaining the traditional Kumiodori style. Kumiodori plays a central role in preserving ancient Okinawan vocabulary as well as transmitting literature, performing arts, history and ethics.”

Source: “Kumiodori, traditional Okinawan musical theatre: Inscribed in 2010 on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity,” at https://ich.unesco.org/en/RL/kumiodori-traditional-okinawan-musical-theatre-00405, accessed on Feb 21, 2019.