With the cheerful beat of taiko drums, lyrical tunes of traditional Japanese music and carnival foods from the Land of the Rising Sun, Nihonjin Akimatsuri is back!
This year, the 38th annual Nihonjin Akimatsuri, or Japan Autumn Festival, is slated for 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 18 at Ypao Beach Park. Hosted by Japan Club of Guam, a local
group of Japanese companies and individuals, the event draws more than 30,000 people every year, according to organizers.
Traditional “bon odori” dancing is at the core of the festival – literally. Colorful lanterns will adorn the site as taiko drummers and well-trained dancers in summer kimonos perform on a central stage. People will start dancing around the stage – and you should join in. Even if you don’t know how to dance, dancers on stage and around you will show you how to perform the traditional moves.
There will also be various performances, such as comedy magic show, a tuna filleting event, Japanese folk dancing, street performances and traditional Japanese lyre
performances on the main stage.
The Japan Club of Guam invited folk dancers and traditional Japanese instrument players from Japan, while local Japanese dance groups and Japanese School students in Guam will also perform.
“A total of 19 stage performances are scheduled for this year, and over 80 performers from Japan applied to perform,” says Hidenobu Takagi, president of Japan Club of Guam. While some groups have been participating every year for a long time, Takagi said they have many new performers joining them this year.
“For this year’s festival, we are going to install a large screen at the other side of festival site (near the dancing scaffolding), so that participants who are situated far from the main stage can enjoy stage performances on the screen,” Takagi said.
To promote a festive atmosphere, they will sell traditional Japanese “happi” coats during the festival, he said.
Another main event is the festive parading of “mikoshi,” or portable shrines, throughout the festival. There will be three mikoshi, one carried by children from the Japanese School of Guam, one by women and another by men – all raucously moving from one end of the festival grounds to the other gleefully cheering “wasshoi! wasshoi!”
Plenty of food and game booths will also be on hand around the main stage. Stir-fried “yakisoba” noodles, skewered chicken “yakitori,” shaved ice, cold beer and soft drinks
are some of the traditional Japanese festival foods that will be offered. These foods will be prepared by local Japanese restaurants and food shops, while drinks have been donated by Japanese and local companies.
And for the kids (old and young), there are game booths to enjoy, from scooping up goldfish, rubber balls and small dolls, to ring tossing, putting and shooting hoops.
Since food and game booths will not accept cash, you’ll need to buy tickets at the entrance to the event.
Tickets will be sold in groups of 10 for $10 each.
Get your tickets in advance to avoid a long line at the ticket booth at the event. You can buy tickets at Japan Club of Guam, or Pier Marine [1st floor] (Mon – Tue and Thu – Fri, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. until Nov. 17.) and Tokyo Mart in Tamuning (10 a.m. – 8:30 p.m.) from Nov. 14–17.
And, if the weather allows, a fireworks display will kick off at 8:10 p.m.
Parking is available at St. Anthony Church, and a free shuttle service will ferry festival-goers to and from the event (Ypao Beach Park) every 15 minutes starting at 1:30 p.m. and until 10 p.m. Accessible parking space is also available behind GVB building.
The Japan Club of Guam has hosted the annual festival on the third or fourth Saturday of November every year since 1970. Part of the proceeds from the event are donated to the Japanese school on Guam. To show their appreciation, students from the school will give an instrumental performance and sing the Japanese national anthem among other songs, according to Takagi.
“The Japan Autumn Festival originally started as a small Japanese community event to show their children a typical traditional Japanese festival and culture,” Takagi said. “It has grown year after year, and today, it is considered the island’s largest annual festival - enjoyed not only by Japanese but a lot of locals and tourists, as well.”
In fact, the festival offers a rare glimpse of Japanese culture by condensing a variety of seasonal activities such as bon odori dancing and mikoshi carrying into a single event tailored to Guam.
“Everyone is welcome,” Takagi said. “With six months of preparation, I really hope you will join us and enjoy a night of Japanese tradition!”
Scheduled Attractions during the Festival
2 p.m. Opening remarks
2:20 p.m. Street performance (Nankin Tamasudare Asobijuku Ikedon-Kai)
2:40 p.m. Performance of Taisho Lyre (Boso Taisho Lyre School)
3 p.m. Kabuki dancing (Ayano kai)
3:20 p.m. Traditional nangoku soran dance (Japanese School in Guam)
3:30 p.m. Performance of Dojosukui dancing (Dojokko Club)
3:40 p.m. Performance of music instruments (Japanese School in Guam)
4 p.m. Remarks
4:10 p.m. National Anthems
4:20 p.m. Mikoshi (portable shrine) parading by low graders of Japanese School, men and women
4:30 p.m. Mikoshi parading by higher graders of Japanese School
4:40 p.m. Traditional yosakoi dance (Kochi Yosakoi-ren and local students)
4:50 p.m. Perfromance of Yocchore (Wakka & Sknow)
5:20 p.m. Mikoshi parading by children, men and women
5:30 p.m. Bon Odori
5:50 p.m. Aikido performance (Guam Aikido Association) and tuna filleting event (Chef’s Association)
6:20 p.m. Award Ceremony for poster contest winners
6:40 p.m. Special stage of Hank Rice (comedy magic)
6:50 p.m. Traditional yosakoi dance (Kochi Yosakoi-ren and local students)
7 p.m. Street performance (Nankin Tamasudare Asobijuku Ikedon-Kai)
7:20 p.m. Performance of Dojosukui dancing (Dojokko Club)
7:30 p.m. Mikoshi parading by women and men
7:40 p.m. Bon Odori
8 p.m. Award Cereony
8:10 p.m. Fire Works
8:20 p.m. Mikoshi parading by women and men
8:30 p.m. Bon Odori
(Schedule is subject to change)
Autumn Fest menu
Onward Beach Resort
Yakisoba: 4 tickets
Takoyaki: 4 tickets
Sushi: 6 tickets
Yakitori: 4 tickets
Sashimi: 5 tickets
Grilled squid: 5 tickets
Joinus Restaurant Keyaki
Okonomiyaki: 3 tickets
Shrimp Keraguen: 4 tickets
Coconut shrimp: 5 tickets
California Pizza Kitchen
Avocado club egg roll: 4 tickets
Pizza: 3 tickets
Ban Thai Restaurant
Pad Thai: 4 tickets
Fried Banana: 4 tickets
Fried Spring Rolls: 4 tickets
Fresh Spring Rolls: 4 tickets
Thai Iced Tea: 2 tickets
Cotton Candy: 4 tickets
Rice ball and Pastry: 2 tickets -
BBQ rib: 4 tickets
Fried chicken: 2 tickets
Fried squid: 3 tickets
Squid Ink Rice Croquette: 4 tickets
Popcorn: 5 tickets
Smoothie: 4 tickets
S.P.E (Guam) Inc
Fruits: 4-5 tickets
Shaved Ice: 4 tickets
Hilton Guam Resort
Beef curry: 6 tickets
Yakitori: 6 tickets
Pork cutlet sandwich: 4 tickets
Maccha soda: 4 tickets
Fruits sherbet: 4 tickets
Guam Plaza Hotel
Fried Chicken: 6 tickets
Portugal Donuts: 2 tickets
Nachos w/Cheese/Jalapeno: 3 tickets
Hot dog with Bun: 3 tickets
Combo Nacho and Hot dog: 5 tickets
Tonkotsu ramen: 5 tickets
Jumbo Cream Puff: 3 tickets
Iced Chocolate Banana: 2 tickets
Hotel Nikko Guam
Rrilled Beef: 5 tickets
Sausage: 1 ticket
Rice: 1 ticket
Tokyo Teri Burger: 5 tickets
Cold somen noodles: 4 tickets
Brownie: 3 tickets
Ramen: 5 tickets
Iced chocolate banana: 3 tickets
The Consulate of Japan
Rice cake: Free
Beer: 2 tickets
Sake with wooden cup: 7 tickets
Sake in glass: 2 tickets
Soft drinks (plastic bottle): 2 tickets
Soft drinks (can): 1 ticket
Toys: 2 tickets –
Goldfish scooping: 3 tickets
Doll scooping: 2 tickets
Yo-yo scooping: 2 tickets
Ring tossing: 2 tickets
Basketball: 2 tickets
Slipper tossing: 2 tickets
Target game: 2 tickets
Miniature golf: 2 tickets