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Friendship Fest rocks in the summer at Torii Station

By: Kenny Ehman

Date Posted: 1999-04-16

Get ready for the first big bash of the year. It's time for Torii Station's 11th annual "Friendship Fest," and everyone is invited. If you have been waiting for an excuse to get out and enjoy Okinawa's early summer, then this is the perfect opportunity. Held at Torii Station's beautiful beach, it gives both sun worshipers and party lovers a chance to enjoy some fantastic music, food - and of course - surf and sand. The event kicks off on Friday, April 16 and runs through the weekend, ending on Sunday, April 18. The festival has been a favorite of many islanders for years, and it is the starting point for a string of festivals and "matsuri" that will take place throughout the summer.

The "Torii Friendship Fest" is also well known for bringing together both the military and local communities. Torii MWR Marketing Chief Henry Ortega commented, "Our mission is of course to promote good services to the military community, but it's an extra special bonus when we can open our gates and allow our Japanese and Okinawan hosts to spend a couple of days with us and have some fun."

Organized by Torii MWR and sponsored by AT&T and Coca Cola, the festival offers some of the best in entertainment. Friday begins the festivities at 5 pm with country music, featuring a country DJ, some good ole' line dancing, and two shows by the band "Roadhouse." Saturday is a full day of rock 'n roll heaven. From 7 pm until midnight, it's non-stop live music as some of Okinawa's local rock bands light up the stage. Scheduled to play are "Neo Punk San," "Noi Z as Hell," "Chuck Wow," "Ziong," and "Zero Faith." Sunday will feature a variety of cultural events, jazz music, and R&B. Taiko drummers kick things off at 12 noon, followed by Hispanic folk dances, a karate demonstration, and Flamenco dancing, interceded by music from Rachel Lauderdale and Aaron Smith. The evening will present tunes by "Fast Forward," "Cry Wolf," and "Abstract."

While checking out the great entertainment, you can expect to find plenty of food and drink all weekend long. The smell of grilled burgers, hot dogs, and BBQ ribs will bring delight to those who are looking for some American outdoor favorites. Filipino and Thai food should satisfy the tastes of more exotic food lovers, and there will be an overflow of soft drinks and COLD BEER to help cool the hot spice and summer sun.

If you plan on bringing the kids, the "Torii Friendship Fest" will have plenty of things to do for them too. Adventure seekers are sure to find thrills and laughter at Torii's water slide and the infamous "trampoline thing." Digbee the Clown will perform on stage at 2 pm on Saturday and at 5 pm on Sunday, while Kitora the Juggler is sure to bring some smiles on Saturday afternoon. If the little ones still want more to do, there will be kiddy rides provided by MCCS and some other local vendors as well.

Torii MWR has also put together some great giveaways. AFN DJs Jimmy Williams and Tim Greenwood will be calling out the winners for t-shirts, beepers, and free tickets to some of Okinawa's theme parks. Make sure you get a chance at the grand prize giveaway; an overnight stay for two at the Kariyushi Resort. Ortega remarked that MWR would like to thank Fad Tech, Kariyushi Beach Resort, Kenwood, Pioneer, Ryukyu Mura, Rizzan Sea Park Hotel, Gyokusendo Kingdom Village, Southeast Botanical Gardens, and Loyal Trading International Ltd for providing many of the great prizes.

Then there is the beach. It is one of the nicest on the island. Situated on Okinawa's west coast, it offers a view of Okinawa's spectacular sunsets. There are campgrounds, barbecue areas, and showers. The long expanse of sand and blue water provide a great area for swimming and marine sports. The Torii Scuba Locker supplies some of the best instruction on the island, and stocks all the latest scuba equipment for your diving needs. You can catch their annual sale during the weekend of the festival, and save on selected items with a 10% to 30% discount.

Ortega also mentioned that Major Myers and the Department of Public Works have done a fantastic job at getting the beach ready for this summer. New Okinawan style roofs went on both beach-side stages, a new patio was constructed next to the snack bar, water faucets were installed along the beach, and the water slide was overhauled and repainted.

Don't miss this fun filled weekend at Torii Station. Swim, pick up some diving equipment, listen to some great music, eat, drink, and enjoy the summer weather!

Organizers have requested that you do not bring any pets or glass containers, and that you do not drink and drive. Taxis will be available at the beach's entrance to get you home safely.

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