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Tedako Matsuri is like county fair

By: By Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2012-07-20

The Urasoe Tedako Festival is a sort of like an American county fair and an Okinawan gathering of friends for the largest event the city puts together each year, and definitely not something to be overlooked.

The 35th annual Tedako Matsuri kicks off tomorrow evening on the city’s Yafuso Street. Opening night at the festival is full of pageantry, entertainment, music, and definitely, food. Because Urasoe City’s proud of its heritage, the international community is invited to bring the families and enjoy a bit of Okinawa culture.

What makes it a double plus for many military families is the convenience of having a major festival practically in the back yard. Urasoe City is centrally located near Camp Kinser, just south of Kadena Air Base and Camps Lester, Foster, Buckner and Futenma. Organizers encourage visitors to use public transportation, as no parking lots are available at the festival grounds. Parking must be accomplished away from Yafuso Street and the festival grounds.

The Tedako Festival, with Tedako meaning ‘children of the sun’, pays homage to the king of the ancient Ryukyu Kingdom. The ancestral king Eiso was in Urasoe, with the royal castle now in the Urasoe Castle ruins Park. The festival begins tomorrow with taking the fire from the sun at the castle ruins. Yafuso Street has been turned into a pedestrian zone for the festival period. Friday’s festivities begin at 5 p.m. at Yafuso Street, and run until 10 p.m. In American terms, it’s one giant block party, and y’all are invited.

Festival action takes place Saturday at the Iso Castle Ruins Park, starting with the Tedako Fire Ceremony at 2 p.m., although the day’s first activities are a Summer Youth Festival tagged ‘Fighting Music 2012’ beginning at 1 p.m. at Urasoe Tedako Hall. Sports activities take place throughout the afternoon at the Urasoe City Gymnasium, there’s a Children’s Carnival from 5:30 p.m. ~ 6 p.m., followed by a musical concert starting at 6 pm. The Tedako torch lighting ceremony begins on the festival grounds main stage at 7 p.m., with opening ceremonies and the Ms.Tedako Crowning Ceremony following. The Picture Scrolls of the Three Great Urasoe Kings is presented at 7:30 p.m., and fireworks finale starts at 9 p.m.

Urasoe kicks into high gear on Sunday, with the 12th Tedako Haarii Dragon Boat Races at Makiminato Fishing Port beginning at 9 a.m., and the 8th Urasoe Mayor’s Cup Children’s Sumo Competition running from 10:30 a.m. ~ 3 p.m. at the Sumo Ring. In the early afternoon, the Senior Citizens Club Ring Toss Contest entertains at the Central Community Center, while at 3 p.m. the Homeland Grand Prix 2012 runs to 10 p.m. at Urasoe Tedako Hall. There’s also a public Large Rope Skipping tournament throughout the day at the Civic Gymnasium, and groups are also invited to participate in a Kickball Tournament.

The Urasoe Tedako Festival really comes alive starting after five o’clock, with Neighborhood Association Performances and Traditional Performing Arts and City organization Performance, not to mention ladies dancing and community interaction. The Guest Concert at the main stage begins at 8 p.m., and the traditional Kachashi Dance leads up to the fireworks at 8:50 p.m. A massive fireworks exhibition begins at 9:10 p.m., following the closing ceremonies.

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