Okinawa, once the Ryukyu Kingdom, created its own unique forms of entertainment while being influenced by China, Japan, and Southeast Asia. During the Ryukyu Dynasty, the royal government endeavored to develop the performing arts, and even established an Odoribugyo (dance magistrate) as a government official.
Okinawa’s traditional performing arts can be divided into “court entertainment” and “folk entertainment.” Court entertainment was performed mainly in Shurijo (Shuri Castle), with songs and dances to entertain Chinese imperial envoys.
On the other hand, folk entertainment was performed at events such as local festivals, and often directly reflected human emotions.
Okinawa has long been an active region for the performing arts, and is called the “Island of Songs and Dances” and “Treasure Box of Performing Arts.” Okinawa continues to preserve its traditional culture inherited from the Ryukyu Dynasty such as “Ryukyubuyo” (Ryukyuan dance), “Kumiodori” (musical theater composed of words, music, and dance), and “Sanshin music” that uses musical instruments brought from China including the sanshin (three-stringed instrument) or Chinese fiddle.