The National Cultural Festival Yamaguchi 2006
The largest cultural festival in Japan, the National Cultural Festival, took place in Yamaguchi this year from November 3rd to the 12th. Over 1,000,000 visitors attended, coming from across Japan and from abroad as well. The Festival, held annually on a rotating basis throughout Japan, celebrates culture from both Japan and from around the world through theater, music, and arts. The annual event was first held in 1986, when the Ministry of Culture in Tokyo decided to broaden the already existing Nationwide High School Cultural Festival (started in 1977) to include all ages and citizens on a national level, renaming it the National Cultural Festival. Events take place around or starting on the date of November 3, which is an officially recognized holiday in Japan known as Culture Day.
The theme of the Festival this year was “Exciting Cultural Advances from Yamaguchi,” focusing on Yamaguchi’s contributions to Japan during important turning points in history, exploring ways to create a new 21st century culture, and promoting the “creation of a cultural environment for children.” The Festival kicked off with an opening parade down Park Road in Yamaguchi City, preceding 10 days of events and festivities— over 100 in total—that took place throughout the prefecture. The events covered a broad spectrum of talents and local activity, starting off with the Opening Ceremony and Festival, held at the Kirara Genki Dome in Yamaguchi City, where about 1,000 people took part in producing a historical romantic musical titled “2,000 Years in Yamaguchi, Land of Splendor.” Other major events included symposiums on regional culture； 14 citizen-initiated cultural art projects； the Children’s Dream Project (in which 29 groups set about putting together events based on ideas thought up and planned by children)； and 53 themed festivals.
The various festivals, projects, and symposiums took place in most of Yamaguchi’s major cities and town, featuring numerous performances by choruses (such as youth choruses from around the country), orchestras (such as Yamaguchi’s Bamboo Orchestra), Taiko drumming ensembles, marching bands, Noh and Kyogen troupes, Tawarayama Female Kabuki, musicals (including original productions performed by children from Yamaguchi), dance (Western, Japanese, classical and modern), as well as exhibits of media arts, fine arts (from professionals to amateurs, gallery to street displays), tea ceremony and flower arrangement, and literary events such as Haiku and Tanka competitions. Performance groups from abroad, such as singing and dancing groups from Spain, China, Korea, Mongolia and Hawaii, were invited to participate in the events as well, in an effort to promote international and cultural relations.
Next year’s National Cultural Festival will take place in Tokushima Prefecture.
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