You are here


Eisa is a Japanese dance that originates from the Okinawa Islands. It is a group dance performed by approximately 20-30 people of any gender. Participants are typically arranged in double lines or circles, and they sing, chant, and drum as they dance. Various participants may also play the sanshin, a Japanese stringed instrument. It is customary when performing to wear brightly coloured traditional dress costumes, which are based on the local tradition and the gender of the participant.

Is this activity known by any other names?


What are the origins of the activity abroad and in Canada?

This dance has been practiced in the Okinawa Islands of Japan for thousands of years. Since the 1980s, modern styles of eisa have been developed and gained popularity globally. Eisa was likely introduced to Canada by people of Japanese heritage in the early 2000s.

Who takes part?

Young males and females, primarily of Japanese heritage.

When does it occur / How often do you take part?

This activity takes place year round in the GTA at cultural festivals, Bon celebrations, and dance performances.

Are there any organized clubs, groups, organizations or leagues?


Cultural Significance

This dance may be culturally significant to some members of the Japanese community in the GTA. Historically, the purpose of the dance was to honour one's ancestors. Newer styles of eisa, developed since the 1980s, though popular and meaningful to participants, are no longer viewed as sacred.

Is there anything else we should know?



  • Miles Nadal Jewish Community Centre
    750 Spadina Ave
    Toronto, ON M5S 2J2

Do you have any images/videos or other information that you would like to contribute to this activity profile? Please submit your additions.