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Okinawa International Foundation Presents World Friendship Assembly

Date Posted: 1999-11-13

In the spirit of cultural exchange, the Okinawa International Foundation is sponsoring an event entitled "5th International Gathering". The event is scheduled for the Okinawa Convention Center in Ginowan City on November 21, 1999 from 10:00 - 17:00. Organizers say it will feature attractions rich in culture that are sure to captivate a crowd unquestionably rich in diversity.

The Okinawa International Foundation (OIF) was founded in March 1981. The founders’ hope at the time was to "develop Okinawa as a peaceful, prosperous and vigorous center for international exchange and communication at the southernmost part of Japan". The OIF sponsors a multitude of cultural exchange programs, including language classes (Chinese and Korean), Japanese speech contests for foreigners and lectures on foreign cultures, to name a few. As a part of its goal to promote "heart to heart communication," the OIF has sponsored 4 such festivals in the past, all with different events but the same theme of cultural exchange. Last year alone, the occasion attracted 3,000 people.

This year's gathering is expected to play a large role in introducing Okinawa culture to foreigners and vice versa. Chikako Kamizato, an employee of the OIF, expressed the view that sponsoring such a gathering gives locals and foreign residents a chance to communicate with each other. "Okinawans and foreigners can develop friendships through events like this as it helps the community come together," Ms. Kamizato explained. By her own estimation, the OIF expects over 8,000 people to attend this year, numbers that will surely promote a better understanding of foreign culture.

One of the major features of the event is bound to be the grand flea market, with around 40 booths, which will be set up at the event site. Visitors should expect to see a variety of items for sale, as participants in the flea market are required to prepare items that are unique to their countries of origin.

As for gourmet attraction, another exciting event - an international food exhibition – will be hosted by the Okinawa International Center of Urasoe. Last year, 18 different countries were represented with an array of tantalizing dishes. Southeast Asian, This year, Okinawan and African food will be among the prominent specialties.

Participants can also look forward to witnessing an impressive attraction of international performances- from Latin moves to traditional Ryukan dances. Foreign groups will be performing on stage to the sounds of both Okinawan and their own respective countries.

The festival will also incorporate an introduction to Japanese culture. Highlights include a striking “Ikebana” display (Japanese traditional flower arrangement) and a lesson in traditional Tea Ceremony.

Children are welcome to attend the gathering also. A section will be set up with exciting carnival-like games such as "strike-out", a basket shooting contest, darts and more. And best of all, winners will receive yummy prizes

"We would like to introduce our culture to foreigners," said Ms. Kamizato. " We encourage everyone to attend this event."

For anyone interested in setting up a booth at the flea market, applications are being accepted until November 12th. There is no charge to set up a booth, and two tables and a chair will be provided to applicants. For more information please call Ms. Kamizato at (098) 836-9900 or fax your request to (098) 836-9920.

Directions: On Hwy 58 heading south towards Naha, make a right just after the Ginowan Police station. The road will end at the Ginowan bypass. Turn left on to the bypass and the Convention center will be on the right.

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