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Recontextualizing Eisa: Transformations In Religious, Competition, Festival And Tourism Contexts

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Chapter Summary

Over the last half century, however, eisā has been recontextualized in competition, festival and tourist contexts. While focusing on these contexts and the processes of cultural transformation, a study of this particular performing art in its traditional and contemporary settings provides insight into Okinawan identity construction. This chapter focuses on the context of eisā rather than on its content. It divides into three main areas, each of which looks at a distinct eisā setting. The first focuses on eisā's traditional ritual context at an annual Buddhist celebration; the second shows two of eisā's recontextualizations, in competition and festival settings; and the third centres on eisā and tourism, especially the transformation of this performing art for tourists at theme parks. The chapter shows the movement of eisā from sacred to secular contexts, and illustrates how the genre has significance today as a marker of cultural identity for Okinawans and other Japanese.

Keywords: annual Buddhist celebration; cultural identity; eisā's recontextualizations; eisā's traditional ritual context; festival settings; Okinawan identity construction; tourist contexts



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