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Live outdoor music readies Kin for "20th Century Avenue"

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1998-08-21

Residents and officials are preparing for the "Kin Town Summer Festival: 20th Century Avenue", which is being held to help promote Kin township and the Shinkaichi distict located across from Camp Hansen. Many Americans and locals are very familiar with the Shinkaichi area. It is filled with bars, local fast food restaurants, and other shops. During the Vietnam War era it was heavily used by American soldiers for entertainment. Over the years, Okinawans also began to visit the area to eat at the many small restaurants, famous for their large portions and cheap prices. "Taco Rice", a very popular dish that originated on Okinawa, has almost become synonymous with Kin Town. Nearby beaches and many old Okinawan houses also added to the flavor of the area.

Recently however, many shop doors have been closed. "Out of Business" has become the common phrase for many of the stores that once dotted the small streets. Aside from the remaining hostess bars and taco rice restaurants, Kin has started to become a ghost town.

Hoping to revitalize the district, "Makino Works", a promotion company, has developed a town reformation plan, which officials and business owners are hoping will bring back customers to Kin. Officially being called the "20th Century Avenue" reformation plan, the planners have come up with the idea to divide the streets of Shinkaichi running perpendicular to Camp Hansen into theme areas, which will depict the music and pop culture of America during each decade form 1910 until 2000. Each street will have live houses, shops, and memorabilia of its particular era, bringing to life American pop culture of the last century. Tomoaki Kurita, one of the organizers of the "20th Century Avenue" plan, explained that visitors will be able to walk down the 40's street and hear the sounds of the Glenn Miller band, while a block over at the 50's street fans of Elvis Presley and other "oldies" can soak up the atmosphere of that decade. Music lovers will be able to walk through a musical time machine, listening to jazz, country, disco, and other types of music heard throughout 20th century America.

Besides music, the project hopes to draw entrepreneurs to the area to provide fashion stores, theaters, and restaurants representative of the different time periods. "It will be a place for both locals and tourists to come and enjoy," Kurita explained. "The image of Kin to most local people is that it is dirty and unsafe, but we would like to change that image."

"Makino Works" is headed by Masayuki Makino, the founder of "Okinawa Actor's School". The local acting instructor has made head-waves in Japan with his unique style of teaching and harsh criticism of the Japanese education system. His school became an icon of many young girls after the success of protˇgˇ pop star Namie Amuro and the hit group "Speed". Earlier this year, Makino recruited the talents of Ikko Ohno and other young visionaries to carry out the ideas put forth by "Makino Works". Kin is now banking on Makino and Ohno's vision of "20th Century Avenue" for a more prosperous and remodeled Kin Town.

Although the project is still in the planning stages, it has already received the support of the local government and many officials representing the tourist industry. Many local entertainers have especially shown excitement over the proposed plan, and talks have already begun with many of the well known musicians on the island.

In order to better explain to the local residents of Kin town the concept behind the "20th Century Avenue" reformation plan, "Makino Works" is sponsoring and producing the "1998 Kin Town Summer Festival 20th Century Avenue" event, which will occur from August 28 until August 30. The festival will take place at the Kin Choei Ground. A number of activities are planned, including demonstration booths, which will focus on the "20th Century Avenue" proposal. Each booth area will give visitors a sample of the planned reformation project at the Shinkaichi area.

The three day event will be highlighted by opening day, Friday, with a concert by "BB Waves" starting at 7 pm. The night will then continue with street performances within the Shinkaichi district from 8 pm until 10 pm. Some of the scheduled acts include: Acoustic M, Big Band, Jet, K Band (featuring Katchan), the Masao Miyazato Band, Nice thirties, and Overs. The bands will perform outdoors, creating a block party atmosphere, with plenty of food and drinks also being sold. Fireworks are also planned, so do not miss this unique opportunity to participate in a fun filled evening, and also be a part of the "20th Century Avenue" plan for a new Kin Town.

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