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International Carnival to attract thousands to Okinawa City

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2007-11-01

Okinawa City comes alive this weekend with a festive, international atmosphere for the Okinawa Kokusai Carnival 2007.

With citizens of more than 30 countries residing in the central Okinawa city, the International Festival 2007 promises a weekend of diversity in everything from foods to friendship. The carnival runs Saturday and Sunday on Gate 2 Street and the surrounding area to Goya Intersection.

It’s a weekend of color and culture, mixed with entertainment and excitement such as is found at Oktoberfest in Germany, or Carnival in Rio De Janeiro.

Okinawa adds its culture too, and the tug-of-war with thousands pulling on the ropes while dressed in native folk costumes from countless countries makes it a superb photo opportunity.

Festivities get under way at 1 p.m. Saturday with ceremonies and Koza Music Town’s musical pageant. Street arts and street performers, as well as Children’s Eisa and a young people’s festival tournament fill the afternoon.

There’s also a hibiscus seedling sale at Sun City Arcade. At 5 p.m., the Kadena Air Base brass band performs, followed by the Samba carnival on Gate 2 Street at 6 p.m.

Competition among Okinawa City gals for the title of Miss Okinawa City takes place during the carnival.

On Sunday, Gate 2 Street, Chuo Park Avenue and the Okinawa City outdoor stage are all jam packed with excitement starting at 11 a.m. The international carnival friendship exchange runs to 9 p.m., a soccer game tips off at noon, as does the Real Estate Fair at the Shopping Arcade.

Bull fighting takes place 1 p.m. ~ 8 p.m. at the Okinawa bull fighting ring.

The entrance fee is ¥2,500. Okinawa food booths will run 1 p.m. ~ 8 p.m. at the Tamayama parking lot, a children’s space is open throughout the afternoon, and the hibiscus seedling sale continues at the shopping center and arcade.
BMX and street dance along Gate 2 Street runs 2 p.m. ~ 6 p.m., setting the tempo for the Koza Dancing Parade along Chuo Park Avenue, Route 330 and Gate 2 Street beginning at 4 p.m. The international tug-of-war games take place on Gate 2 Street starting at 6 p.m. The evening caps with an hour-long performance by the U.S. Air Force brass band. The performance is at Koza Music Town beginning at 8 p.m.

Not to be outdone, the Yomitan Festival is also taking place Saturday and Sunday with a totally different atmosphere. The Yomitan Festival units the villagers and Yomitan Village’s 300 Sanshin players performing classical music, along with dance performances. The festival, which is free, takes place at the Yomitan Village Multiple Purpose Square.

There will also be plays and lion dances. The play of Taiki, who was the pioneer of trade between Okinawa and China, is a must-see event, especially the part when he enters and exits the scene boarding a large ship. Other events include an Okinawan music concert, a marching band performance, bullfighting, and a children’s Sumo-wrestling tournament.

Getting to Yomitan Village is not difficult. On the Expressway, exit at Ishikawa Interchange, then follow the signs during the 15-minute ride. Bus service to Yomitan Village is frequent on lines 29 and 62. The Zakimi bus stop in Yomitan Village is five minutes from the festival area.

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