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"Begin" headlines island's largest music festival

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2009-06-27

Songs give people peace and happiness, and that’s enough to inspire some of the island’s top entertainers to offer their talents—FREE—at a Song Day Carnival 2009 on Saturday.

Created some years ago by the popular Begin, a three-man pop group from Ishigaki Island, the Song Day Carnival has grown to this year include The Boom, Garage Sales, Gen Chan and All Japan Goith. Popular comedian Akashiya Sanma will appear also. Every one of the artists and groups says “we love music and believe it is the support of life.”

The groups put their feelings to music beginning at 2 p.m. Saturday at the Nishihara Marine park, in the multipurpose area. “This song carnival is free of charge, and everybody can come and enjoy together,” says the Begin leader, Masaru Shimabukuro. Together with Eisho Higa and Hitoshi Uechi, the three native Okinawans have been friends since elementary school, and all attended the same high school.
Ironically, Begin started after the trio had gone separate ways after school. Higa called his buddies together to play Okinawan folk music, including tunes on the sanshin, Okinawa’s three-string banjo. The collaborations led to their singing at a friend’s wedding in 1988, the first performance calling themselves Begin. In Begin’s two decades, the group has recorded more than two dozen albums and nearly a dozen DVD’s.

The event is free, but organizers ask carnival-goers to keep the park clean, taking garbage away when leaving. Personal coolers and outside alcoholic drinks are not allowed to the event. Smoking is prohibited at the venue. The bands and organizers say they’ll play if there’s light rain, but in case of inclement weather, the event will be canceled. In case of light rain the use of raincoats is allowed, but not umbrellas. Organizers stress that patrons are responsible for their valuables and personal items. Caution against theft is advised. No photography of the stage or recording of performances allowed, and that includes the use of cell phones. Those I violation will be asked to leave.

For English language updates, see the www.japanupdate.com website, or call (098) 921-2052.

Gates open at 2 p.m. and the music starts at 4 p.m. Organizers recommend people wear hats or caps, and bring water since it’s forecast to be hot. With parking in high demand, car pooling is also recommended.
The reach the Song Day Carnival at Nishihara Marine Park, 17 Higashizaki, Nishihara Town, from Kadena Air Base and points south take the Expressway to Nishihara Interchange, then after exit towards Yonabaru, where you turn left onto Route 329. There large signs point to Nishihara Marine Park on the right.

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