Autumn Fest shows Japanese spirit

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Guam

With the cheerful beat of taiko drums, lyrical tune of traditional Japanese music and carnival foods from the Land of the Rising Sun, Nihonjin Akimatsuri is back!

This year, the 37th annual Nihonjin Akimatsuri, or Japan Autumn Festival, is slated for 1:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. Nov. 19 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 Japanese “chambara” sword battle demonstrations, a tuna filleting event, Japanese folk dancing, street performances and J-pop girl’s idol unit on the main stage.

The Japan Club of Guam invited folk dancers and the popular idol group, Link STAR’s, from Japan, while local traditional Japanese dance groups and Japanese School students in Guam will also perform.

“A lot of stage performers from Japan applied to perform,” says Eigo Komatsu, Japan Club of Guam spokesman. “While some groups have been participating every year for long time, we have many new performers joining us this year, as well.”

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 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 trying anything 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.
And, if the weather allows, fireworks display may be enjoyed at 8:05 p.m.

Parking is available at the parking lot across from Oka Payless super market, and a free shuttle service will ferry festival-goers to and from the event (every 15 minutes starting at 1:30 p.m.)

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, 77 students from the school will give a choral performance and sing the Japanese national anthem among other songs, according to Komatsu.

“The Japan Autumn Festival originally started as a small Japanese community event to show their children a typical traditional Japanese festival and culture,” Komatsu 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,” Komatsu said. “I hope you will join us and enjoy a night of Japanese tradition.

37th Japan Autumn Festival of Guam (Nihonjin Akimatsuri)
Date: Nov. 19
Hours: 1:30 – 9:30 p.m.
Location: Ypao Beach Park (next to Hilton Guam Resort & Spa)
Admission: Free
Ticket: Booklet of 10 for $10 (sale on ticket booth)
Tel: 646-8066

Scheduled Attractions during the Festival

On the Main Stage
1:30 p.m. Opening remarks
1:40 p.m. Performance of traditional Japanese instruments and folksong (Niigata Festival in Guam)
1:50 p.m. Traditional yosakoi dance (Kochi Yosakoi-ren)
2 p.m.      Traditional dojo-sukui dance (Dojokko Club)
2:05 p.m. Traditional yosakoi dance (Yokohama Yosakoi Matsuri Executive Committee)
2:15 p.m. Street performance (Nankin Tamasudare Asobijuku Ikedon-Kai)
2:40 p.m. “Chambara” sword battle demonstration (Emotion)
3 p.m.      Performance of idol group Link STAR’s
3:30 p.m. Opening remarks for the Second Half of event
3:40 p.m. National Anthems (America, Guam and Japan)
3:50 p.m. Addresses of host and guests
4:25 p.m. Chorus (Japanese School in Guam)
4:30 p.m. Street performance (Nankin Tamasudare Asobijuku Ikedon-Kai)
4:40 p.m. Traditional yosakoi-soran dance (Japanese School in Guam)
4:45 p.m. Traditional Chamorro dance (local school students)
5 p.m.      Performance of idol group Link STAR’s
5:25 p.m. Traditional dojo-sukui dance (Dojokko Club)
5:30 p.m. Traditional yosakoi dance (Kochi Yosakoi-ren)
5:40 p.m. Performance of traditional instruments and folksong (Niigata Festival in Guam)
5:50 p.m. Award presentation for winners of poster competition
6 p.m.      Japanese traditional dance (Japanese Dance Association)
6:25 p.m. Performance of idol group Link STAR’s
6:50 p.m. Traditional yosakoi Dance (Yokohama Yosakoi Festival Executive Committee)
7 p.m.      Street performance (Nankin Tamasudare Asobijuku Ikedon-Kai)
7:10 p.m. “Chambara” sword battle demonstration (Emotion)
7:35 p.m.  Performance of traditional instruments and folksong (Niigata Festival in Guam)
8 p.m.      Award ceremony and introduction of participating performers and groups
8:30 p.m. Remarks of representative of Kosaikai (Japanese Mikoshi association in Guam)
8:55 p.m. Closing remarks

On Yagura Scaffolding (sub stage) and Field
4:15 p.m. Mikoshi (portable shrine) parading by children
5:15 p.m. Mikoshi parading by children and women
Tuna Filleting Event
6:15 p.m. Bon Odori dancing
6:40 p.m. Mikoshi parading by men, women and children
7:20 p.m. Mikoshi parading by Kosaikai (Japanese Mikoshi Association in Guam, men and women)
7:45 p.m. Bon Odori dancing
8:15 p.m. Mikoshi parading by Kosaikai (men and women)
8:40 p.m. Bon Odori dancing

Autumn Fest menu

Onward Beach Resort    
Dumpling: 3 tickets    
Takoyaki: 3 tickets    
Taiyaki: 2 tickets
Chef’s Associations    
Sushi: 6 tickets    
Yakitori: 4 tickets    
Sashimi: 6 tickets    
Grilled sanma (Pacific saury): 3 tickets
Joinus Restaurant Keyaki    
Grilled scallop: 3 tickets
Beachin’ Shrimp    
Shrimp Keraguen: 4 tickets    
Coconut shrimp: 5 tickets
California Pizza Kitchen    
Avocado club egg roll: 4 tickets    
Pizza: 3 tickets

Mother Entertainment    
Pastry: 3 tickets    
Rice ball: 2 tickets    
Potato butter: 4 tickets    
Sweet beans/rice cake: 5 tickets
Tony Roma’s    
BBQ rib: 3 tickets    
Fried chicken: 2 tickets
Fried squid: 3 tickets
Guam Aikikai    
Popcorn: 5 tickets    
Smoothie: 4 tickets
S.P.E (Guam) Inc    
Fruits: 5 tickets
The Gecko    
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    
Pork cutlet bowl: 5 tickets    
Beef bowl: 5 tickets    
Chicken egg bowl: 5 tickets    
Mango splash: 4 tickets    
Four Season Grantia: 4 tickets
Nachos w/Cheese/Jalapeno: 3 tickets    
Flavored popcorn: 3 tickets
Ban Thai Restaurant    
Pad Thai: 4 tickets    
Dried pork: 4 tickets    
Fried banana & sweet potato: 4 tickets    
Fried spring rolls: 4 tickets    
Thai iced tea: 2 tickets    
Gelato: 2 tickets
Sakura Noodle House    
Yakisoba: 4 tickets
Fiesta Resort    
Tokyo Teri Burger: 5 tickets    
Cold 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

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