Kumi Odori – a tradition from Ryukyu Kingdom  ”Kumiodori Tatekata” Living National Treasure Noho Miyagi

Kumi Odori - a tradition from Ryukyu Kingdom
”Kumiodori Tatekata” Living National Treasure Noho Miyagi


Kumiodori of Okinawa, Mastering female impersonator

Kumiodori of Okinawa is composed of three elements – Ryukyu classical music, Ryukyu classical language, and Ryukyu classical dance. It is a dance drama passed on from the Ryukyu Kingdom era, originally made to entertain the emissary of the Chinese emperor. Chokun Tamagusuku, an official of the Ryukyu Kingdom royal government at that time, created it in 1719, and for 300 years, it has been handed down from generation to generation. We had the honor of meeting Noho Miyagi, who is the head and the actor of Ryukyu Buto Miyagi Honryu Hounokai, and a Living National Treasure. He established a unique style of acting in the female role of Kumiodori, and he is teaching young actors at Tokyo University of Arts and at the National Theatre. Miyagi explained the feature of Kumiodori female impersonators, ”The difference from the ”Kabuki” impersonator is that they are not committed to female roles. They must master other things such as ”wagoto” (soft and clean-cut handsome male role) and male dances like ”Nise Odori”. What is referred to as ”nimaime (the handsome hero)” in plays is necessary to be a true female impersonator.”

Watching the classic,”Shushin Kaneiri (obsession bell )”

The first Kumiodori ever performed are said to be ”Shushin Kaneiri” and ”Nidou Tekiuchi”. Nakata, who said he’d never seen Kumiodori”, was allowed to see the rehearsal for ”Shushin Kaneiri”. It is a play about the main character, Wakamatsu Chujo, and a woman who fell in love with him. She became so obsessed with him that she turned into a devil and started attacking him. Nakata was absorbed into the rehearsal for a while, as if he had forgotten the time. Nakata commented, ”The sounds of the ”sanshin” and ”kokyu” (four-stringed fiddle) which are unique to Okinawa, definitely stimulated my interest.”


Miyagi Noho Kumiodori Ryubu Kenkyusho
616-4 Itarashiki, Yonabarucho, Shimajiri-gun, Okinawa Prefecture