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Okinawa arts and crafts, music showcase weekend Island Fair

Date Posted: 2009-11-25

The weekend is perfect for Christmas shopping.

The annual Island Fair kicks off Friday at the Okinawa Convention Center in Ginowan, then runs through late Sunday afternoon. The timing is perfect for those ‘hard to find’ traditional Okinawa gifts, just in time for the December 11th postal mailing deadlines to have the trinkets stateside for Christmas.

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 an Island Fair picture contest, a painting contest, auctions from each island, 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 shimauta 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. Traditional Okinawa entertainment, shimauta and taiko drum performances will be presented Sunday morning. Island Fair organizers promise lots of items for sale that simply will not be found anywhere else on Okinawa. There will be numerous items from the outer islands on sale, including handicrafts and foods.

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. In light of influenza concerns, organizers ask people who have fevers 37C or higher to please stay away from Island Fair.

The Okinawa Convention Center is easy to find. Take Highway 58 south from Kadena Air Base and Camp Foster, turning right about 200 meters after passing the Camp Foster Kitamae Gate 5. Go straight a couple of kilometers, and the Okinawa Convention Center is on the right.

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