202311261The 31st Abiko International Festival took place for the purpose of promoting international friendship among people living in Abiko. This festival has been held every autumn except for 2020, when it was cancelled due to the pandemic.  (No.23-16)

Date and Time:  Sunday, November 26, 2023  11:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. 

        (Stage performances : 1:00 p.m. - 4:00 p.m.)

Venue:  Abiko Shimin Plaza (Gallery, Multi-purpose Hall, Japanese Room and Salon)

Emcees: Mr. Xing Kai Jun, Ms. Kotoha Kuramatsu and Ms. Sayaka Fujisaki.

Visitors:  About 700 people


As soon as the door to the gallery was opened at 11 o’clock, visitors started to flock in.  There were nine booths in which products and souvenirs from various countries were displayed and sold. In some booths visitors tried samples of drinks and foods.  Among the nine booths were the ones from the Republic of Cyprus and the Japan-Uzbekistan Association, both of which joined the festival for the first time this year.202311268


2023112661There was a Japanese Tea Ceremony hosted by a tea master Ms. Sosetsu Nakane from Urasenke, one of the main Japanese Tea Ceremony schools.  The ambassador of Uzbekistan to Japan and his wife visited the salon and enjoyed “the way of tea” listening to Ms.Nakane’s explanation through an interpreter, one of her disciples.

[Japanese Room]

Ms. Tokue Suzuki, a Kimono dressing teacher, and her disciples dressed foreigners in Kimono.  Beautifully dressed up, they were happily taking pictures of each other and walking around.2023112611


Videos introducing the Republic of Cyprus and the Republic of Uzbekistan were shown from 12:00 p.m. Great nature and delicious-looking food of Cyprus and beautiful townscapes with modern buildings and rows of trees of Uzbekistan attracted many people.202311267

The opening ceremony started with the opening declaration by one of the emcees Mr. Mr. Xing Kai Jun at 1:00 p.m.  Ms. Kitajima, AIRA President and Mr. Hoshino, Abiko City Mayor made short speeches.  Mr. 202311263202311264Hoshino said in his speech that we can deepen friendship by getting to know each other’s history and culture and, mentioning the two booths from Cyprus and Uzbekistan, expressed his hope that the festival would promote international exchange.

After the introduction of the guests, the Ambassador of the Republic of Cyprus to Japan, Mr Yannis Michaelides and Deputy Chairman of the Japan – Uzbekistan Friendship Association and former Japanese Ambassador to Uzbekistan, Mr Fumihiko Kato made speeches.202311265

Ambassador Michaelides introduced Cyprus as an attractive country with modernity as well as over 11,000 – year history and traditions.

202311266His wife, dressed up in Kimono for the first time, was interviewed and told that she was honored and thrilled to experience Japanese culture.

Mr. Kato introduced the history of Uzbekistan, which developed with Silk Road, and also talked about an episode on a historic theater which opened in Tashkent in 1947.  It was built with the help of Japanese soldiers who had been transported to Uzbekistan following the end of the Second World War.  The building withstood the great earthquake that occurred in 1966.  Japanese technology and hard-working people are highly valued in Uzbekistan. 

The first program on the stage was dance performance by Kappa Kids Dance, a dance group of children from preschool202311269 to high school. They danced to rhythmical pop music numbers and “Kappa Ondo”, a local song loved by Abiko people.  Their powerful performance filled the hall with excitement and it was suitable for the opening of the festival.

Japanese Class students and international exchange students sang a Japanese old song “Furusato” and one student sang a solo “The Greatest Love of All”.  They also showed dance performance “Soran-bushi,” one of the famous Japanese traditional fishermen’s songs, and Belly Dance.

Two rugby players from Tokatsu Green Rockets, Mr. Swanepoel Tiaan and Mr. Ika Motulalo Takau, showed lifting and catching a ball thrown in at a lineout in the game.  Children in the hall queued up to experience the play.  Each child was lifted high by Mr.Ika and caught a ball thrown by Mr. Swanepoel.

Students from Tsukuba University Folklore Club played soothing music using traditional instruments, the kena flute and the sapona horn.  The music made the audience imagine Andean people dancing to the music under the clear blue sky.

Spanish Salon members sang a melancholic Spanish song about bittersweet memories with an ex-girlfriend. Their daily training was reflected in their performance.

International students from Chuo Gakuin University played the guard flute and showed dancing.  The flute made clear sound with melodies expressing a girl dancing in the moonlight and a lover who is beautiful like indigo-blue porcelain.

The last program was gospel songs by Abiko Rejoice Gospel.  They sang to the piano in powerful voices with cheerful gestures and smiles. It was a heartwarming and lively finale of the festival.

Last of all there was a raffle draw followed by the closing speech by Mr.Nakamura, chairperson of the festival committee.

After the festival the committee members and those who worked together for the festival had a small wrap-up party.

(Translated by Chizu Yamaguchi)