Banyuwangi, a beautiful cultural city

Banyuwangi is one of the tourist destinations in Indonesia which is quite unique. There are seven major ethnicities in one regency. Can you imagine how many cultures you’ll find there? It’s just like everywhere. “Culture are everywhere” in Banyuwangi regency.

This tourist location is on the easternmost island of Java and borders the island of Bali which is separated by the Bali Strait. A regency where you can find cultural diversity, which is reflected in traditional ceremonies, dances, music, and the arts.

Have you ever heard that Banyuwangi is the city of Gandrung? That’s the reason why I saw a big statue of a Gandrung dancer girl as a Banyuwangi icon there. This dance is an expression of admiration for the god of rice and fertility. Once a year, there is a Sewu Gandrung event where a thousand Gandrung dancers participate. So check the event calendar at Banyuwangi before you book your travel ticket.

Did you ever see a buffalo? How about a human buffalo? It’s not a monster, for sure. It was just individuals dressing up as mythical creatures resembling water buffaloes. Kebo-keboan is one of the cultural rituals in Banyuwangi for buffalo appreciation. Buffalo is a farmer’s work partner in agriculture. There are 30 buffalo men who move through the streets of Banyuwangi, entertaining and engaging the community. But don’t get too close to them because the buffalo men are possessed, they act like the real buffalo.

Banyuwangi is known for various mythical creatures. Traditional ceremonies in Banyuwangi may have mystical components that often involve offerings, prayers, and symbolic acts. One of the popular mystical dances in Banyuwangi is called Seblang. It is performed to invoke blessings and protection from negative influences. Seblang girl dancers wear vibrant and colorful traditional costumes. She rolled up the scarf and threw it into the crowd. I was one of them who got the scarf. Those who get the scarf thrown must go up to the table where the Seblang dancer waits to join the dance. If anyone refuses to join, they’ll get into trouble. Apart from that, the spirit that possesses the Seblang dancer can sulk and not continue the ritual. And you may get the scarf also, so you better prepare yourself for it.

I was staying at the resort in Kemiren village. A village where you can meet the Osing tribe, the natives of the Banyuwangi tribe. There, you can also find a unique traditional musical instrument called the Angklung Pagak. The sound of the music is so calming. It is often played when harvesting as entertainment for the people in the fields. This musical instrument is a building with a height of between 7 and 10 meters. Above it is a seat with an area of about 3 square meters for four Angklung Pagak players. So the angklung players is in a very high position, such a unique thing. They must not have a phobia of heights.

Believe me, those are only among the hundreds of local cultures in Banyuwangi. Now it’s your turn to explore all of it! Prepare your next destination for the wonderful cultural diversity in Banyuwangi!