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Okinawa products, culture on tap at weekend Island Fair

Date Posted: 2007-11-30

Okinawa showcases its home grown industries and agriculture this week at Island Fair, a three-day festival beginning tomorrow at Okinawa Convention Center.

Dozens of booths will be open in the Convention Center, with everything from clothing to musical instruments to foods on display, and also for sale. Ceremonies officially kick off Island Fair at 12:30 p.m., but doors open at 10 a.m. for visitors to view an exhibition of island pictures and a photo contest, and to listen to the experience of playing sanshin music.

As the afternoon unfolds Friday, folk songs known as shimauta will be presented live, along with a lecture on Ryozo Matsuzaki and Okinawa traditional entertainment performances. There will also be a taiko drum festival in the central open space, and original Okinawa food booths throughout the complex.

The Island Fair will be open until 6 p.m. Friday, and operate 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on both Saturday and Sunday. Photo exhibition and contests, sanshin and shimaita music, as well as singing contests all take place Saturday, along with taiko and traditional entertainment performances.

Sunday sees the original products sales booths boosting their presentations, and a seminar on awamori, Okinawa’s unique alcoholic beverage, will be presented by Asako Tominaga. Traditional Okinawa entertainment, shimauta and taiko drum performances will be presented Sunday morning. Island Fair organizers, concerned about safety, ask parents to leave baby carriages and strollers at the head office outside the Convention Center, and not take them into the exhibition hall. Pets are not allowed inside the exhibition hall.

The Okinawa Convention Center is easy to find. Take Highway 58 south from Kadena Air Base and Camp Foster, turning right about 100 meters after passing the Camp Foster Kitamae Gate 5. Go straight several kilometers, and the Okinawa Convention Center is on the right.

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