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Ishikawa Festival to Celebrate Okinawa International

By: Jena Maddalino

Date Posted: 2000-04-21

As this year's G-8 Summit approaches, many cities in Okinawa plan to introduce foreigners to the unique culture of the island. This June, Ishikawa city will celebrate with an international festival, or matsuri, to promote education and cultural exchange between the Okinawan people and the foreign population that share this island paradise.

The festival, to be held June 24 and 25, will be a showcase of foreign talent, food and ideas. The weekend will start with a huge parade down the main street in Ishikawa, 329, and will be followed by culture events such as dance demonstrations and musical performances. This year, the city government is inviting any group on the island to participate.

"Many foreigners live in Okinawa, so we want many groups to input their thoughts and wishes for this year's festival," said Board of Education member, Kiyoshi Miyagi. "This will be a celebration of the unique variety of culture that exists and I hope that many foreigners come to the event."

Okinawa, often regarded as the matsuri capital of Japan, hosts countless numbers of matsuris throughout the year. Eisa and other traditional dance are often the highlights of each festival as well as the typical fare of yakitori, soba and other local food. In the spirit of the G-8 Summit and all the world attention that it will bring to Okinawa, Ishikawa city, with the help of foreign groups, plans to offer a more international fare this year.

"Any group that wants to set up a booth is welcome and the booths will either be free or offered at a very low cost," said Miyagi. Groups will be able to set up an assortment of booths ranging from food to information and a stage will be set up for performers. As many as 40,000 people are expected to attend this year.

This year's event will also mark a new beginning for Ishikawa's effort to educate the foreign population about the Okinawan culture. "This is our way to promote international understanding. We also plan to offer culture classes after the event for anyone interested in learning more about Okinawa," Miyagi told Japan Update.

Anyone interested in participating in the event should contact Mr. Kiyoshi Miyagi at…or email Edo Heinrich-Sanchez at edo@iso.wwma.net. The schedule of events will be finalized after Golden Week and a meeting will be held at the Ishikawa Civic Hall on May 13th at 6:00PM. All are invited to attend the meeting.

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