Ginoza Village Festival blends tradition with pops

Ginoza Festival, held only every two years, is a mix of tradition and modern.

Ginoza Village is hosting its biggest biennial festival this weekend, bringing both traditional performing arts and popular Okinawan musicians on the stage.

Okinawa’s young jazz singer, Takako Afuso, who has strong soulful voice, popular Latin band, Diamantes, and Manami, a singer familiar from Orion Beer TV commercials and other performances, appear on stage, and are all set to entertain at the Ginoza Farming Park and Gymnasium on Saturday and Sunday.  The free festival opens at 12:30 p.m. on Saturday and runs until 9 p.m., while Sunday’s festivities begin at 10 a.m. and run to 8:50 p.m.

In addition, there are some unique events.  The village round free bus tour and pleasure boat rides are free!  In front of the gymnasium, there is a Segway experience counter.  For kids, there’s a haunted house, but there is an admission fee there. The haunted house is open 5 p.m. ~ 8:30 p.m. both days.

Ginoza Festival activities begin with ceremonies at 12:30 p.m. Saturday, followed at 1 p.m. by an Island-wide Okinawa Sumo competition.  Pleasure boat rides take place in the afternoon, with would-be participants for the rides checking in at the counter by noon.  The Tsuyoshi Azubuchi music show is at 6:40 p.m., followed at 7:50 p.m. by Diamantes live.  Fireworks cap the evening at 8:50 p.m.

Local ladies’ group shows their hula.

On Sunday, the village round bus tours begin at 11 a.m., with two others at 2 p.m. and 4 p.m.  Pleasure boat rides are again being offered at 1, 2, 3 and 4 p.m.  The Okinawan local idle group pira-para stage show is at 5:20 p.m., followed at 6:45 p.m. by Jun-senshu.  Manami is live at 8:10 p.m.  Fireworks wrap the festival at 8:50 p.m.

Ginoza Village prides itself on being a healthy, vibrant central Okinawan community that extends its hospitality to everyone, without being a flamboyant or pushy place. Tiny Ginoza, population just over 5,000, communes with nature, and welcomes visitors who want to get away from the rat race and learn about the island culture and the people. It’s located on the central east coast of Okinawa’s main island, the village declaring they are ‘Tenpusu’, meaning navel in the Okinawan dialect. It’s never been a tourism Mecca, but that doesn’t mean it’s out of the way.
The G-8 Summit conducted in Okinawa in 2000 was in Nago City, just across the island from Ginoza. As a general rule, Ginoza Village promotes itself as a place with lots of nature to be experienced. There are a lot of things such as famous local specialties made with local ingredients grown in the village, as well as special experience programs. Since the village is located close to the ocean, fresh fish and shellfish are available direct from local fishermen. Ginoza village is called “The water, greens and sunshine village”.
There’s also a golf course with a breathtaking view of the Pacific Ocean¸ the Ginoza Country Club. There are also shopping opportunities for craft products, processed foods and fresh farm products harvested in Ginoza Village, In the Mirai Ginoza, restaurants and parlors are placed side by side, so, you can eat the village’s original dishes made with local ingredients. Ginoza has its own Tourism Promotion Council, and it’s a creative bunch. One of the recent innovations is the “Ginoza Burger” launched as a part of village revitalization. The Ginoza Burger is local gourmet specialty made with local ingredients and the combined ingenuity of village restaurateurs.

For fun that’s also educational, visitors should try to experience nature programs available in Ginoza village. Programs are divided between year-around programs and limited season offer programs. From January to May, strawberry picking is possible, where you can pick strawberries and can eat them on the spot; All-You-Can–Eat for 30 minutes. From June to October, experience sugar cane harvesting. Harvest sugar cane then make juice and brown sugar, taking the brown sugar home as a souvenir. From July to August, making Pineapple jam is a fun experience. Harvest pineapple, then try the taste and make pine jam. Take one pineapple and one pine jam bottle home as a souvenir.

There are year-around programs offered for individuals, and for family or friends such as making Okinawa soba made from flour to soba-noodle, or making an original plaster Shisa, shaping to coloring by yourself, choosing your favorite pattern and then decorating. Adventurous? Try riding a sea-kayak along a river where mangroves grow wild. Something more different? Try walking a shallow sea of coral reef, or riding a Dragon boat, and taking a Nordic Walk with a guide explaining the village’s cultural properties and local specialties.