旧正月(ソーグワチ)souguwachi: lunar New Years, in Okinawan language. In Japanese, it is pronounced kyuushougatsu.

The lunar New Year was traditionally celebrated in Ryukuan culture, but these days is less common, except for a few areas where there are many fishermen, uminchu 海人(うみんちゅ). The most prominent location is probably Itoman, where all of the fishing boats display colorful flags to pray for good fishing and safety at sea in the upcoming year. The images of tuna and other fish are drawn as lucky symbols to attract business. I went the day after the lunar New Year, so while many flags are still up, there is not much else going on and it was very quiet at the port.

There are also some worship ceremonies on Hamahiga-jima in Uruma (Hamahiga-jima is called the island of the Gods here in Okinawa). I have not been able to make it up there on the lunar New Year yet, but hopefully one of these days. These are more solemn events of prayer at the many utaki (shrines) sites (of which I believe there are at least 12), so don’t expect “festivities” per se; though at some point it does change from prayer to more festive celebrations with traditional music and dance. A yearly worshiping performed on New Year’s Day of the lunar calendar is done to wish for the health and safety of the citizens and to convey the gratitude to the gods. The nearby Miyagi-jima also has a small fisherman’s maritime parade with colorful flags that was revived a few years ago.

Here is a video from previous years:
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YP3kQbwmHDs

 

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