Tobarama Song Tournament (Tu-Barama)

Ishigaki-jima Tobarama Song Tournament (Tu-Barama)

It does not get much more traditional on the Yaeyama Islands of Okinawa then the Tobarama (sometimes pronounced Tu-barama) Song Tournament. Performed with the accompaniment of the sanshin (the traditional Okinawa stringed instrument) this competition has taken place each year since 1947.

The theme of the songs tends to be lovers ballads as that is what is usually sung of in Tu-barama. Although the theme tends to remain the same from song to song the story and style of each singer varies greatly. Some competitors stay in perfect key and others belt out their tunes in a traditional slightly off key high pitch style.

The competitors are organized into categories with the winner of each group being announced at the end of the evenings show. Some competitors sing at a professional level and others are rank amateurs but no matter their ability the saying on Ishigaki-jima is “all those who sing are stars.”

Songs are sung in local dialect that most Japanese people from the mainland don’t understand. The entire tournament takes place on a stage under the late summer’s full moon light on the 13 day of August according to the lunar calendar (mid September to the rest of us). This makes to a very nice setting to listen to the enchanting songs coming from people’s hearts.

From Naha Airport: Approx. 60 min. by airplane
From Ishigaki Airport: Approx.15min. by car
From Hirara Port: Approx. 5min. by car

Name of Venue: Maezato Park (Ishigaki City)
Date: Mid Sep
Address: 109-3 Maezato, Ishigaki City, Okinawa
Phone: 0980-82-1515 Ishigaki City Board of Education

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Miyako Islands Hotels & Resorts

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 Miyako Is. 4 star hotel Hotel Atoll Emerald Miyakojima
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