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Urasoe Festival takes center stage

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2006-07-22

Itıs not the largest festival on Okinawa, but a visit to Urasoe Cityıs annual celebration is like revisiting a county fair in midtown America.

The Tedako Matsuri kicks off Friday evening on the cityıs Yafuso Street. The opening night festival has pageantry, entertainment, music, and of course, food. Itıs Urasoe Cityıs biggest event of the year, and theyıve invited the international community to bring the families and enjoy a bit of Okinawa culture.

A plus for many military families is the convenience of having a major festival practically in the back yard. Urasoeıs centrally located near Camp Kinser, just south of Kadena Air Base and Camps Lester, Foster, Buckner and Futenma. Parking is slightly more available for visitors and participants than in many locales.

Yafuso Street will come alive starting after five oıclock, and merriment running through the evening with lots of eisa, dancing and community interaction. And oh yes, donıt forget the food.

Saturdayıs official activities begin at noon in the Youth Area near the park entrance, featuring a battle of the bands in an afternoon and evening Summer Youth Festival. Expect some lively performances by many Urasoe area amateur bands.

Also on the afternoon bill Saturday are Japanese Dances in the Social Welfare Center Hall. Those performances run from 2~4pm.

The Urasoe Athletic Park Main Stage begins reverberating at 5pm with childrenıs Eisa, followed by a guest concert. The obligatory official opening ceremonies are at 6:50pm. Once the speeches, welcomes and toasts are past, the 10th annual Taiko Carnival takes over at 7:30pm.

Sundayıs another fun-filled day of performances, drumming, races and fireworks. Away from the Athletic Park are the dragon boat races, the Tedako Hari Competition. Those races take place at Makiminato Fishing Port, just off Highway 58. Thereıs something for everyone throughout the afternoon at seven locations within the Urasoe Athletic Park. The Harmony Center hosts Elderly Club karaoke in the morning, and a ring toss tournament in the afternoon.

Japanıs popular sumo wresting begins at 10am in the Sumo Ring. The five-hour event is the Second Annual Mayorıs Cup Childrenıs Sumo Tournament.

The nearby Youth Area has the Summer Youth Festival running a second day, and the indoor gym sports a footsal tournament starting at 2pm. For childrenıs peforming arts and poetry readings, drop by the Social Welfare Center Hall.

Vocal and Sanshin duo ŒThe Tidaı launches into traditional song 4:30~9pm at the Baseball Field, while the Main Stage has an 11-legged race at 9am, followed by traditional performing arts performances, a 6pm dance contest and performances by ŒThe Tidaı and Kachashii. Fireworks cap the night Sunday, so take your cameras to capture the spectacular action.

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