Noguni Soukan Fest postponed to this weekend

Colorful women’s dance is an annual crowd-pleaser at Noguni Soukan Festival.

Noguni Soukan Festival was postponed to Otcober 11th and 12th because of expected inclement weather caused by the approaching typhoon PHANFONE.

 

It is a delectable Okinawan vegetable served year around, but for next weekend the humble sweet potato’s status is elevated and honored with a festival of its very own.

Most of the peformers at the festival are local amateur groups.

The 34th Noguni Soukan Festival, which takes its name from the man who introduced the purple tuber to Okinawa and Japan, moves to center stage in Kadena Town next Saturday and Sunday. Admission is free to the festivities taking place in Kaneku Kaihin Park located near the Kadena Marina on Highway 58.

Live music on stage runs the gamut from Okinawa local artists to Kadena kids. At the main stage, local singers will show how central music is to local lives.  Some of them are Shiori, best known for the CM song of Orion Beer, and male reggae unit group ’Glean Piece’ on the first day of the festival.  On the second day, a traditional Eisa group, Senbaru Eisa representing Kadena will come up.  Other than that, people can enjoy Hatagashira, the tall bamboo poles with a big ornament on top, lion dance performance, as well as a local unique pro-wrestling team, the ‘Ryukyu Dragon’ based on Navel Kadena that will stage matches throughout the festival.  Fireworks bring both evenings to a spectacularly colorful conclusion.

Senbaru Youth Eisa Group performs.

On Sunday there’s a parade, the Hatagashira show and a sumo tournament. The fireworks, with more than 1,000 pyrotechnics is to be set off Saturday starting at 8:55 p.m., while they begin at 8:45 p.m. on Sunday.

As Noguni Soukan and the sweet potato is honored, there will be sweet potato digging contests for children, while traditional dances, including the Senbaru Eisa group and live music pay on stage.

The festival pays homage to Noguni Soukan, a Ryukyu bureaucrat who initially brought the sweet potato to the island from China in 1605, planting the tuber seeds in Kadena, his hometown. The Noguni Soukan festival is the one of the biggest festivals in Kadena Town.

Sweet potato cultivation is relatively unaffected by weather and spread all over Okinawa and saved people from famine and starvation.   In Kadena, which is Noguni Soukan’s birth place, the festival takes place every year in order to honor his achievement.  It’s a grass-roots festival, and so a lot of people from local schools, kindergartens and senior groups perform at various shows.  For example, there are a potato digging races, a haunted eco-cardboard house, a problem-solving adventure game in tribute to Noguni Soukan and Kakuriki Okinawan sumo competition.

Vendors will be serving and selling the sweet potatoes throughout the festival. Limited parking is available at Kaneku Kaihin Seaside Park, so organizers encourage visitors to use free shuttle busses rotating around Kadena Town throughout the festival.

Because organizers postponed the festival due to effects of typhoon Phanfone, there are like l to some changes in the entertainment programs during the event.