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Hija River Festival setting is tranquil countryside

Date Posted: 2010-07-15

An alternative to the crowds and traffic is a short venture up Highway 58 for a day of peace, quiet and tranquility in a low key, back to nature setting.

The 16th annual Hija River Festival is coming up Sunday, and it offers a chance to get away from the hustle and bustle of the numerous other weekend festival options. Staged at the Kadena Town Multi-Welfare Center, the festival opens at 9:30 a.m. and a full slate of activities kick off within the hour. A children’s open space friendship area opens at 11 a.m., where kids can enjoy water sports, pleasure boats, dragon boats and canoes.

Located just beyond Kadena Circle on Highway 58 is the Hija River--one of the larger rivers on Okinawa—that meanders through parts of Okinawa City and Kadena before emptying its contents into the East China Sea along the coastline of Yomitan Village. The calm river cuts through forested areas, and is also the home to many mangrove trees and flora. Although the river had become polluted over the years, community efforts have helped it to become much cleaner. The government has also created paths for cycling and walking.

Hija River is the center of the Hija River Festival on Sunday, and will feature all sorts of water-related fun for the entire family, including homemade raft races. There’ll be darts and other games, while on stage there’ll be mini concerts, singing contests, and plain ol’ audience participation singing. Voluntary, of course. The festival is sponsored by the Kadena Town Office, Kadena Board of Education, the Hija River Government, Nirai Fire Station Group and the Kadena Town Chamber of Commerce.


It’s a short drive to get to the festival, heading north on Highway 58 past Kadena Air Base to the Kadena Rotary. After passing the circle on Highway 58, look for the bridge that goes over the river. The Hispanic Culture Center will be on the right, and an apartment building on the left. Turn left at the traffic light into the small parking lot. There will be a white coffee shop straight ahead. You can park your car along the fence.

The festival takes place in and around the Multi-Welfare center, with dozens of food and entertainment booths lining the walkways. The festival site is a 15-minute walk from the Mizugama Bus Stop. Parking around the site will be clearly identified along Routes 73 and 84. The festival is free, and open to everyone on the island.

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