Iwakuni Festival comes back with bang!

by Takahiro Takiguchi
Stripes Japan

It’s time again for the Iwakuni Festival on Oct. 19 and 20.

Billed one of the area’s largest, this festival draws more 40,000 visitors every year for a cheerful parade, brass bands and other performances.

For this year’s event, the Iwakuni Cultural Hall will be host to various performances including dancing and other cultural entertainment on Oct. 19 along the main streets around JR Iwakuni Station.

Be on the lookout for traditional kimono performers, colorful festival floats and Iwakuni symbolic “white snakes” at the festival on Oct. 20.

Iwakuni is home to an extremely rare white snake which is now a centerpiece of the festival. In Japan, the rare creature is regarded as a lucky god among locals. Visiting Shirohebi Jinja (White Snake Shrine) in the city is believed to bring you good monetary luck.

At the festival, take part in the Shinto ritual of the White Snake Shrine and pet the head of the snake mascot for good luck. This part of the festival ends with distribution of snake-shaped mochi.

Try some of the other local delicacies while you’re there. Food booths will be selling “Iwakuni Zushi,” a square-shaped vinegar rice ball developed as portable meal by samurai warriors in the medieval era or “Taihei,” a local pot dish made up of chicken soup and root crops, and more. You can sample some high-end sake brewed at local breweries, as well.

So, if you’re in Iwakuni or have a plan to visit, don’t miss the cultural event of the season!

The 63rd Iwakuni Festival

          
When: Saturday, Oct. 19 from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. and Sunday, Oct. 20 from 9:40 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: At various areas surrounding JR Iwakuni Station
Cost: Free admission.

1st Day (Oct. 19)        
10 – 11:30 a.m.
Charity cooking knife sharpening (at Silver-aged Staffer’s Center)
11 – 11:30 a.m.
Shinto Ritual (at Shirosakihashimangu Shrine)
1 – 5 p.m.
Children’s Sumo Competition (at Shirosakihachimangu Shrine)
4:30 – 4:50 p.m.
Taiko Drum Performance (at Iwakuni City Cultural Hall)
4:30 – 8 p.m.
Stage Performances (at Iwakuni City Cultural Hall) 

2nd Day (Oct. 20)    
Venue 1 “Communication & Festival Square” 
(Along Route-188, between Iwakuni St. and Mikasabashi Bridge)
9:40 – 9:50 a.m.
Opening ceremony                  
9:50 – 10:30 a.m.
Brass band parading
10:30 a.m. – 4:40 p.m.
Brass band performance     
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Mochi ponding 
10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Iwakuni Marifesta 
10 a.m. - 2:30 p.m.
Flea market 
10:30 - 11:50 a.m.
Fire Department demonstration 
10:40 a.m. – 2:20 p.m.
Japan Self Defense Force Booth 
Noon – 2:20 p.m.
U.S.-Japan cultural exchange corner (calligraphy, tea ceremony, etc.)
1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
Shinto ritual and parading of giant white snake    
2:45 - 3:30 p.m.
Parading of festival floats, white snake and fireman’s standards    
3:30 – 4 p.m.
Traditional dancing by participants    
4 – 4:05 p.m.
Closing ceremony    
6:10 – 4:30 p.m.
White snake-shaped mochi scattering

Venue 2 “Event and Booth Square”
(The area of city road closed to traffic)
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Iwakuni local sake corner 
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Local dishes (sushi and pot dishes) 
10 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Okinawa products corner

Venue 3 “Children’s Square”
(Marifu 3rd Gaiku Park)
10 -11:30 a.m.
Performance of preschoolers    
11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Iwakuni “Yoitoko” Carnival        
11:30 a.m. – 4 p.m.
Iwakuni “Yoitoko” Dancing 
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Display of miniature steam locomotives and Shinkansen        
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Iwakuni flying-boat Curry         
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Display of police cars and motorcycles            
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Food and game booths     
10 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Amateur radio performance                
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
Parading of lightweight trucks    
11 a.m. – 3 p.m.
“Giant” doodling corner            
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Charity on-site sales by local shops        
10 a.m. – 2 p.m.
Display of various construction machines
10 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Health check-up corner 
12:30 – 5 p.m.
Igo Competition 

For more information, call Iwakuni Chamber of Commerce and Industry at 0827-21-4201.

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