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Colorful carp streamers set stage for Children's Day

By: Bill Charles

Date Posted: 2009-04-24

The eight-meter-long fish-shaped streamers are showing up all over Okinawa this week as the clock ticks down to Kodomo no hi, Children’s day.

There are more than 600 of the carp-shaped streamers in the greater Kadena area, with 40 swimming above the Hija River, site of the Hija River Festival that begins on Sunday. Festival organizers set this year’s theme as ‘Big Dreams, Small Dreams, let’s together make our Kadena children’s future’, with the event slated to run through May 11th.

The 15th annual Hija River Festival is but one of dozens of festivities slated during Golden Week April 29th through May 6th, and the Koinobori Festival Committee thinks its event is one of the best. Staged at the Kadena Town Multi-Welfare Center, the festival opens at 9:30 a.m. Sunday with ceremonies that include hanging the streamers. The Children’s open space friendship area opens at 11 a.m., where kids can enjoy water sports, pleasure boats, dragon boats and canoes.

There’ll be darts and other games, while on stage there’ll be mini concerts, singing contests, singing, the Theater of Donald, bingo, and guitar shows. The festival is sponsored by the Kadena Town Office, Kadena Board of Education, the Hija River Government Nirai Fire Station Group and the Kadena Town Chamber of Commerce.

Organizers say the ‘Big Dreams, Small Dreams’ theme was chosen to accent children’s abuse problems and loneliness, with an eye to making the public more aware of adult responsibilities in taking care of kids and making sure they are given opportunities for healthy, happy lives. Children’s Day, originally known as Boys’ Day, is a day for parents to pray for their children and their futures.

It’s traditionally a day for honoring sons, and Japanese families take the time to join their boys in hanging the Koinobori, the colorful carp streamers, outside their homes. Inside, many families display May dolls.

The festival takes place in and around the Multi-Welfare center, with dozens of food and entertainment booths lining the walkways. The festival site is a 15-minute walk from the Mizugama Bus Stop. Parking around the site will be clearly identified along Routes 73 and 84. The festival is free, and opened to everyone on the island.

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