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40th Annual Nago Cherry Blossom Festival

Date Posted: 2002-01-24

Itís time again for the annual Nago Cherry Blossom Festival. This 40th festival takes place in the heart of Nago City from Friday, Jan. 25, to Sunday, Jan. 27, and is a time of parades, street dances and a variety of other entertainment events. Last yearís festival drew around 200,000 people, and this yearís will certainly attract a large crowd as well. The blooming of the cherry blossoms around Okinawa Prefecture in mid-January astounds mainland visitors, who are used to celebrating the festival in April. Because the Ryukyu Island group is the warmest region in Japan, the flowers bloom a little earlier. Called hikan sakura and originally from China, the local flower is darker in color and smaller than the mainland variety, and it blooms year round, unlike its mainland relative.

Nago Castle is one of the best spots to view these flowers, as the landscape is turned into a sea of pink during the festival. It is a hillside park with about 70,000 cherry trees. Yaedake in Motobu is another good vantage point for enjoying the blossoms.

The 40th Annual Nago Cherry Blossom Festival will kick off with its opening ceremony on Friday at 2:00 p.m. On Saturday a brass band parade will hit the streets, followed by a Womenís Association parade at 5:00 p.m. Finally, several art performances will take place at 6:30 p.m. Sunday will be a day of parades, with a costume parade kicking off at 2:00 p.m. followed by a dance parade at 5:00 p.m. and concluding with taiko drumming and a parade at 6:00 p.m. All of these events take place near the Himpun Gajimaru tree, a Nago landmark and a very old tree.

Another event, Garden Festa 2002, takes place near the Nago Fishing Port from 1:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Friday and 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. Also at the fishing port, ANA is hosting an event called Snow Message at 5:00 p.m. They are flying snow all the way from Hokkaido for Okinawans to play in.

All of the cherry blossom festival events take place in Nago City near Route 58. Parking is available at the fishing port, city gymnasium, citizensí hall and city hall.

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