Japanese food, games, art, sports, and dance were all celebrated last Saturday at the Paseo de Marianas by hundreds of community members and Japanese citizens.
Saturday’s event commenced with the 99th annual peace ceremony of the Katori Jingu Shrine at the Sugar King Park, where local leaders and Japanese officials were joined by High Priest Rev. Shoji Takahashi.
“I attend this event every year to value to friendship between Japan and the CNMI,” Takahashi told reporters.
This year marks the 28th anniversary of the rebuilding of the Katori Jingu shrine and the founding anniversary of the Japanese Society of the NMI, a non-profit organization.
“Every year we have this event to gather tourist, locals, and other nationalities. This is our most important and biggest event of the year,” said Japanese Society of NMI vice chair Yoichi Matsumura.
Matsumura shared that some Japanese cultural dance groups could not make it to this year’s event due to a storm currently hitting Japan.
Matsumura added that the Saipan community can look forward to the 100th anniversary of the Katori Jingu Shrine next year, as the organization will be sending a hundred-person delegation to join the celebration and peace ceremony.
Saturday’s five-hour event drew many members of the community, like Redie Dela Cruz. “We came because they always have good food. We always look forward to buying the food,” she said.
Dela Cruz has attended the Japanese festival for the past seven years and, although the food is her favorite part, “it is important to celebrate the Japanese culture and give this kind of exposure to my children.”
The night featured many food vendors such as Kinpachi, Himawari, and Furusato.
“Every year we make Japanese food and serve it because there are a lot of tourists and Japanese on island,” said Furusato employee Julie Arilliano. “I find it personally important to come here every year and serve everyone.”
Sean Nishii, a volunteer to the autumn festival for the past three years, said that “events like these help educate locals and tourists [about the] Japanese culture.”
“We must not forget our culture and I am glad that many people came out here today to celebrate it.”
The autumn festival is an event that marks the annual celebration of harvest rituals in Japan.
The People’s Republic of China listed the festival as an "intangible cultural heritage" in 2006, and it was made a Chinese public holiday in 2008. It is also a public holiday in Taiwan. Among the Vietnamese, it is considered the second most important holiday tradition. The day following Mid-Autumn Festival is a public holiday in Hong Kong and Macau.