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4th World Uchinanchu Festival

Date Posted: 2006-10-13

Ceremonies, seminars and symposiums, a bazaar, sports events and plenty of traditional Ryukyu arts and entertainment are lined up for the four-day 4th World Uchinanchu Festival now under way on Okinawa.

The festival, first held in 1990 to promote cultural awareness among Okinawans and their friends and relatives scattered around the globe, has built into a giant promotional event for the Prefecture. More than 4,000 traveled from overseas to participate in the last Festival in 2001. That event attracted more than 266,047 spectators and participants.

This yearıs festival, in the planning for more than a year, officially opens at one oıclock this afternoon with ceremonies at Okinawa Convention Center.

Unofficially, it began last evening on Kokusai Street in downtown Naha City with a Festival Eve Parade.

A number of activities run today through Sunday, beginning with the Uchina Champuru Festival and World Bazaar at Ginowan Seaside Park. The twin events start at 1pm with exhibitions, cultural experiences workshops and stage performances funning until 9pm. Also at Seaside Parks will be a Peace Works ³The World and Okinawa² exhibition 1~6pm.

The World Business Fair and Business Symposium are being staged at Ginowan Municipal Gymnasium 1~9pm, while Shuri Castle Park is the setting for the commemorative event of the festival, the ³Dances of the Ryukyu Kingdom.

Performances are at 11:10am, 2pm and 4pm.

A Soccer Tournament is being hosted at the Ginowan Municipal Grounds beginning tomorrow through Sunday. An International Gateball Tournament at Ginowan Municipal Grounds runs tomorrow and Saturday, while a Karate Kobudo Exchange Festival takes place Saturday and Sunday at the Budokan Martial Arts Hall at Onoyama Park. Traditional Ryukyu Performing Arts programs begin tomorrow at the National Theatre Okinawa.

The 4th World Uchinanchu Festival is being organized by the Okinawa Prefecture, Okinawa International Exchange and Human Resources Development Foundation, and the Okinawa Convention and Visitors Bureau. Support is also being provided by the Cabinet Office, Internal Affairs and Communications Ministry, The Japan Foundation, the Okinawa Prefecture Board of Education, and cities, towns and villages across Okinawa.

The Ryukyu Symphony Orchestra will be in Concert Sunday afternoon at 3pm at the Okinawa Convention Center Theatre, while NHK Television hosts a singing contest Sunday at Ginowan Citizens Hall. The contest begins at 12:15pm.

Closing ceremonies are set for Sunday afternoon at the Convention Center.

The Festival Goal is to prepare the next generation of Okinawans to carry on the achievements of previous generations and maintain, deepen and enrich the network of Uchinanchu around the world.

Organizers for the 4th World Uchinanchu Festival say it has three specific goals for participants and spectators to take away: (1) To confirm the Okinawan identity, the core and essential basis of the Uchinanchu Network, (2) To nurture and prepare those upon whom the future of the Uchinanchu Network depends, and (3) To contribute to the continued expansion of all phases of Okinawa Prefecture's global relationships as we look to the future.

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