Aharen Honkei

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Aharen Honkei was a scholar and master practitioner of traditional Ryukyuan dance, and conveyor of the royal court tradition of rujigaku (ceremonial processional music).

Born in Shuri, he studied and practiced rujigaku under Chinen Saburô, who had served as gakushi (master musician) overseeing royal processions, and rujigaku processional music in particular, in the royal court prior to the 1879 dissolution of the Ryukyu Kingdom. Honkei later came to be the iemoto (head) of the Keisenkai of the Aharen school of Ryukyuan dance. He is known for a number of original pieces, and won numerous awards. One of his pieces, Chikujô ("Castle Construction"), premiered in 1983, is a dance-drama portraying the construction of Shuri castle.[1]

He passed on knowledge and mastery of the rujigaku tradition to his son Aharen Hon'yû, who is known today as the last master of the tradition. Honkei's daughter Aharen Akemi, meanwhile, was a prominent dance master in her own right until her death in 2006. The Keisenkai remains active today.


  • "Aharen Honkei," Okinawa Compact Encyclopedia, Ryukyu Shimpo.
  • "Aharen Honkei," Shinsen geinô jinbutsu jiten Meiji-Heisei, Nichigai Associates.
  1. "Shurijo Castle and Performing Arts," exhibition pamphlet, National Theater Okinawa, October-December 2020.