Guam to host annual Japan Autumn Fest Nov. 17

Guam to host annual Japan Autumn Fest Nov. 17

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Guam
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 39th annual Nihonjin Akimatsuri, or Japan Autumn Festival, is slated for 2 p.m. to 9 p.m. Nov. 17 at Ypao Beach Park. Hosted by the 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 folk dancing, Chamorro dancing, street performances, traditional shamisen (Japanese banjo) performances and a tuna filleting event on the main stage.
The Japan Club of Guam invited folk dancers, traditional Japanese instrument players and mikoshi groups from Japan, while local Japanese dance groups and Japanese School students in Guam will also perform.
A total of seven stage performances are scheduled this year, along with 18 mikoshi groups participating in the event, according to Satoko Tobe, a spokesman for the Japan Club of Guam. While some groups have been participating every year for a long time, they have many new performers joining the event this year.
“For this year’s festival, we are going to install two large screens in the festival site, so that participants who are situated far from the main stage can enjoy stage performances on the screens,” Tobe said.
To promote a festive atmosphere, they will sell traditional Japanese “happi” coats for $40-60 during the festival.
You can get these happi coats for discounted prices ($25 -40) at Tokyo Mart until Nov. 16, organizers said.
Another main event is the festive parading of “mikoshi,” or portable shrines, throughout the festival. The 18 Mikoshi groups, include 15 from Japan, and three from Guam - 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 festival’s ticket booth.  You can buy tickets at Japan Club of Guam or Pier Marine [1st floor] from Mon – Tue and Thu – Fri, 10 a.m. – 5 p.m. until Nov. 16., Tokyo Mart in Tamuning from 10 a.m. – 8 p.m. on Nov. 14–16, and the Japanese School in Guam from 8:30 a.m. – 4 p.m. on Nov. 9 – 14.
And, if the weather allows, a fireworks display will kick off at 8:25 p.m.
Parking is available at the 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 in 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 Hidenobu Takagi, former president of the Japan Club.
“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
1st act
2 p.m. 
Opening Remarks
2:10 p.m. 
Wadaiko (Japanese drum) performance (Niigata Festival in Guam)
2:25 p.m. 
Yosakoi dancing (Kochi Yosakoi-ren and Guam students)
2:40 p.m. 
Performance of Dojosukui dancing (Dojokko Club)
2:55 p.m. 
Performance of music instruments (Japanese School in Guam) 
3:40 p.m. 
Chamorro dancing (Ayanokai)
3:25 p.m. 
Performance of Nangoku Soran (Japanese School in Guam)
2nd act
3:40 p.m. 
Opening Remarks
3:45 p.m. 
National Anthems 
4 p.m. 
Remarks by event hosts
4:15 p.m. 
Mikoshi Parading by Japanese School, men and women
4:40 p.m. 
Performance of Tsugaru Shamisen (Japanese banjo) (Niigata Festival in Guam)
4:55 p.m.
Performance of Niigata Jinku (Niigata Festival in Guam)
5 p.m.
Performance of traditional Yosakoi dancing (Kochi Yosakoi-ren)
5:15 p.m.
Mikoshi Parading by children, men and women
5:25 p.m.
Performance of Dojosukui dancing (Dojokko Club)
5:40 p.m.
Chamorro Dancing (Ayanokai)
5:55 p.m.
Aikido performance (Guam Aikido Association) and tuna filleting event (Chef’s Association)
3rd act
6:25 p.m.
Opening Remarks
6:30 p.m.
Award Ceremony for poster contest winners
6:35 p.m.
Bon Odori
6:50 p.m.
Mikoshi Parading by children, men and women
7 p.m.
Chamorro Dansing (Ayanokai)
7:15 p.m.
Performance of Tsugaru Shamisen (Niigata Festival in Guam)
7:30 p.m.
Performance of Niigata Jinku (Niigata Festival in Guam)
7:35 p.m.
Performance of Wadaiko (Niigata Festival in Guam)
7:50 p.m.
Mikoshi Parading by men and women
8 p.m.
Bon Odori
8:15 p.m.
Closing Remarks
8:25 p.m.
Fireworks Display
8:30 p.m.
Mikoshi Parading by men and women
8:45 p.m.
Bon Odori

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