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International friendships blossom at Okinawa City carnival

Date Posted: 2004-11-05

By Bill Charles

Okinawa City showcases its multi-cultural nature and interests this weekend with the lively flavor of an international carnival.

The International Carnival in Okinawa City promises diversity for festival goers, with everything from traditional parades to foods to bullfights. Organized by a city executive festival committee, the group wants to promote Okinawa’s culture, while at the same time sharing the traditional cultures of others who live in Okinawa.

Performances are expected from American, Chinese, Taiwanese, Philippines, Spanish and South American entertainment groups, dancers and singers.

Opening ceremonies are Saturday morning at 10:00, with the Festival Brass Band from Okinawa first on stage. The band comes from the city’s junior high school. The festival kicks off at Okinawa City Children’s Park, one of three weekend venues.

Goya Crossing and Gate 2 Street will be the focus of Sunday’s activities, together with the Okinawa City Outdoor Bullfighting Stage.

Organizers are looking for the maximum tourism value from the International Festival, and have organized booths, displays and exhibits covering everything from multi-ethnic foods to industrial products available in Okinawa. Saturday’s fun centers on music, eating and of course, a beauty contest.

Center stage at Children’s Park features international folk entertainment beginning about noon, followed by a young folks’ music festival.

Hidekatsu, a popular Okinawa entertainer whose show normally performs at the Loisir Hotel in Naha, will take to the stage at 3:10pm. The Miss Hibiscus Contest, open to young ladies in the community, will be conducted at 5:25pm. The remainder of the evening is plain, simple fun and music.

Sunday Festival

Old fashioned American rodeo is a top billed festival event Sunday, running throughout the day at the Okinawa City Outside Stage.

Gate 2 Street and parts of Highway 330 in area of Pedestrian Precinct Street will be closed noon to 10pm Sunday, allowing partygoers a safe carnival environment. Game booths, foods, drinks and shopping opportunities will exist along the route. With the traffic eliminated, the International Festival kicks into high gear in early afternoon.

A folk entertainment parade will venture along Gate 2 Street starting at 2pm. High powered entertainment will take place to 7pm, with the Okinawa City Tug of War staged in mid-afternoon.

The Nationwide Bullfighting Tournament will take place in the afternoon from 1-4pm.

As with all Okinawa street festivals, participation is free. Purchases are in yen, although some vendors will take U.S. dollars.

Getting There

The International Carnival zone stretches from Gate 2 Street outside Kadena Air Base Gate 2, east to Highway 330 at Goya Crossing. From northern camps and bases, take the Expressway to Exit 4, then left to Kadena. From the south, Highway 330 runs directly into the fun zone.

Be aware that parking is in tight supply. Authorized persons can park on Kadena Air Base and make the five-minute walk to the carnival. Others need look for authorized parking lots throughout Okinawa City.

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