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Eisa Drummers Attire

By Shane Akagi

First Drummer’s Attire

Originally, Eisaa was performed by Buddhist chanters who went village to village chanting sutras. As a result, the first Eisaa attire was those that were worn by these chanters. Attire included the following:

  • dark colored Kimono that were hiked up to slightly below their knees
  • a towel that was wrapped around their heads
  • Drumming was done with a paranku rather than the Shime daiko and Odaiko that we see in eisaa today

The Heishiya Eisaa Group is representative of the original eisaa attire

Current Eisaa Drummer Attire

Over time, Eisaa drummer’s attire evolved into what is seen today during obon season. Each village had different forms of Eisaa drummer attire, however, they consist of the following:

  • Jiban – White shirt
  • Suteteko – White pants
  • Uchikake – Vest that goes over the Jiban
  • Obi – colored belt
  • Kihan – Stripped Leggings
  • Tsaji – Head covering that was either purple or brocade. The tsaji and kihan were similar to those used by Okinawan samurai.

Each different village and region in Okinawa had different colors for their Jiban, so it would not be uncommon to see different types of attire (such as Chinese style pant suits) when the groups got together for competitions.