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Okinawa German Fest brings music, foods, bier

Date Posted: 2011-07-14

It was 179 years ago when Karl Friedrich August Gutzlaff, a China missionary and East Asia traveler, set foot on Kingdom of the Ryukyus soil, the first step in a long relationship that’s been developed between Okinawa, Japan and Germany.

Okinawa commemorates that 1832 event this Saturday with the Okinawa German Fest, an afternoon and evening filled with German foods and drinks, oom-pah bands, a classical concert, a Café Deutschland, and plenty of hands-on fun at the festival site in Nanjo City.

Festivities kick off at noon Saturday with a concert for children and opening of a host of booths showcasing everything from historical exhibitions, a Film Program supported by the Goethe Institute Japan, environmental topics and a German cakes shop. The event is being staged by the Okinawa Germany Society, under sponsorship of the German Ambassador to Japan, Dr. Volker Stanzel, and the Nanjo City Board of Education.

All events throughout the day and evening are free, except for the Classical Concert, “A Journey Through Germany’s Music and Literature,” at 1:30 p.m. The two-hour concert features works of Beethoven, Mendelssohn, E.T.A. Hoffmann, Weber, Reinecke, Brahms and Wolff, accompanied by texts written by Goethe and Marianne von Wilhelmer. Musicians are Takako Agarie-Franke of Yomitan on piano, Kei Toguchi of Vienna on flute, Ayuko Kuniyoshi of Okinawa, a soprano, Remi Uehara of Tokyo on cello, and Sayaka Shigeshima of Munich and Nanjo City, a mezzosoprano. Advance tickets are ¥2,500 for adults, and ¥1,500 for students through high school age. Tickets are ¥300 more at the door. Tickets are available at Palette Ryubo, Book Box Nago Branch, Bunkyo Harmony Naha and Koza Branches, or through the ticket hotline 080-3965-0179.

The bier garden opens at 4 p.m., inside and outside the Sugar Hall in Sashiki with live music provided by musicians of Affetto from Ginoza, and the impressive trombone chorus Haisai Brass. A more quiet setting is the Café Deutschland set up in a special hall, where first-class coffee and traditional German cakes are served. There’s also a historical exhibition, books and information on German tours.

The film program includes what is presumably the Wrold’s oldest animated movie, The Adventures of Prince Ahmed, directed by Lotte Reiniger in 1926. There will also be rare modern German short films and a screening of Florian Baron’s own short films by the director himself.

For those with an ecological inquisitive mind, there will be opportunities to manufacture candles from 100% bee wax, and a study on wind energy in Germany and Okinawa. The festival runs through 8 p.m. To visit the Okinawa German Fest at Sugar Hall in Sashiki, drive south on Hwy 329 to Yonabaru. At a T-shape intersection turn left on Route 331 and continue the road that follows the coastline until you see Sugar Hall on the left. From Okinawa Expressway, get off at Haebaru exit and turn left onto Hwy 329 and continue straight onto Route 331 in Yonabaru until you see the festival grounds on the left.

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