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Twin Kodomo no Kuni festivals special for kids

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2007-04-26

Japanese television characters, sports games, music and dance go together on Okinawa beginning Saturday in a pair of kokomo no kuni festivals.

The first festival runs Saturday through Monday at the Okinawa City Zoo, giving youngsters an opportunity to meet popular TV character Maji Red. The fun begins with a Renewal 3rd Anniversary at 11:35 Saturday morning, followed by the handshake session with Maji Red, and a Fancy Zoo Show, an animal costume show beginning at 2pm.

Maji Red will meet children again on Sunday noon to 4pm. Hibiki, another popular children¹s television character, will meet kids Monday beginning at 11am. A picnic linked with eight different sports games fill the afternoon.

Organizers say kids playing the games amass points which can be exchanged for prizes. Hibiki makes a return appearance with the kids at 4pm Monday.

Festival entry is free to children ages 12 and under. Admission for adults is ¥500, while those 13~18 pay ¥200. The public will, for the first time, be introduced to a baby giraffe born only 10 days ago.

The second Okinawa kokomo no kuni festival kicks off next Thursday for a four-day run. A giant maze made of cardboard by children over the past several months will be open for kids to test their skills, and there will be koinobori.

Thursday¹s opening features the Nishihara High School Marching Band, which won a gold medal during a recent international appearance in Holland. The concert begins at 1pm May 3rd, followed at 3:10pm by a karate show featuring Azusa Tomishiro, a world champion, and local junior high school students.

Shishi dance and karate will be on stage at the show Friday, May 4th.

Kadena Elementary School students will perform. Okinawan dance highlights the Saturday, May 5th activities.

Sunday, May 6th, brings entertainer Shoukichi Kina and Champlus live on center stage, starting at 12:30pm. A BMX bicycle performance entertains spectators at 1:50pm, and shishi dance and karate will again see Kadena Elementary School students touting their skills.

Food and beverage stands, as well as game booths, are located inside the zoo grounds. The stage is located on the lawn by the pond. Families are welcome to bring picnic lunches and enjoy the Kodomono Kuni atmosphere.

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