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"Ocean Carnival" on Okinawa begins this month

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-04-12

Summer! It is in the air, and Okinawa Prefecture's 12th annual "Ocean Carnival" will kick off the season on April 19. The all summer long extravaganza is actually a series of events, planned by the different cities and townships around the Prefecture, to help promote Okinawa's beautiful oceans and the variety of marine sports offered on the island. The carnival is officially scheduled to last until July 20, and is supported by the Okinawa Convention and Tourist Bureau. The event was started with the idea of trying to connect the many different local events under one campaign.

Okinawa, being located in the sub-tropical zone on approximately the same latitude as southern Florida, enables visitors and locals alike to enjoy warm weather for half of the year. Although Okinawa's winters can become quite cool during January and February, the temperature during late March and early April will hover around 80 degrees Fahrenheit, making it perfect for beach weather. During this time of the year the wind direction changes, bringing in tropical warm air from the south, instead of the cold north winds that prevail during the winter. Warm ocean currents from the "kuroshio" also begin to heat the cool ocean water, marking the start of the tourist season.

This year's Ocean Carnival theme stresses the early arrival of summer here on Okinawa, and the Prefecture is anticipating another annual increase in the number of tourists visiting the island. "Okinawa experiences summer the earliest of all the prefectures in Japan. You can already swim here. We want to promote that fact along with Okinawa's unique culture to visitors planning to come to Okinawa," explained Event Coordinator, Matsuhide Miyagi, of the Okinawa Convention and Tourist Bureau.

April 19th's Opening Ceremony will take place at the new and beautiful Busena Resort in Nago, and this year's event promises to be enjoyable for the whole family. Festivities will begin at 11 am, and will last all day with many fun filled activities. A taiko drum performance will take place, a giant beach tug of war is scheduled, and one hundred local children will enter the water and swim, celebrating the arrival of summer. Marine sports fans will get a chance to witness a F3000 speed boat in action, and there is also a jet ski show that will feature a pair of monkeys driving, which is sure to be a hit with the kids. There are many other shows that will take place, and you can also enjoy Busena Resort's fantastic beach and other facilities. The world class resort has several restaurants, three swimming pools, a sauna, and many marine related activities to choose from.

Other events during the carnival to keep an eye out for, will include yacht races, fishing tournaments, and dragon boat races. On May 23 yachts will gather at the Ginowan Marina and race to Kume Island, giving locals a chance to compete in a field of high level competition. Dragon boat races will take place on May 29 at Maeganeku port in Onna son and again at Manza Beach resort on July 5. There is a "Tropical Triathlon" for fitness fans on June 13 and 14 at Sunset Beach, and the popular Chatan Carnival will take place on July 18 and 19 at the same location. There are also many different matsuri happening around the island throughout the summer, offering a variety of entertainment, good food, and great local atmosphere. Two deep sea fishing tournaments are scheduled in July both here on Okinawa and in Kume island, giving sports fisherman a chance to haul in a prize winning marlin.

If you are new to the island, or just haven't been able to get around for the past year or two, then you should definitely take advantage of the many local festivals and other events planned for this summer's Ocean Carnival. For more information on what is happening in your area, contact the local government office of your town or city, or take a look at Japan Update's calendar of events for monthly information.

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