First-ever Japanese Spring Festival draws sizeable crowd


Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang, front left, poses with Japanese-Northern Marianas Descent Association chair Norman Tenorio, front second left, Japanese Consul Kinji Shinoda, back left, and Marianas Visitors Authority managing director Chris Concepcion, back right, during the Japanese Spring Festival at the Paseo de Marianas last Saturday. 

The first-ever Japanese Spring Festival on Saipan was a worthy successor of the usual annual Japanese Autumn Festival, which was postponed last year because of the widespread devastation of Super Typhoon Yutu on Saipan in late October 2018.

The Japanese Society of the Northern Mariana Islands, headed by chair Masato Tezuka, held the first-ever Japanese Spring Festival at the Paseo de Marianas last Saturday, showcasing the Japanese culture to CNMI residents and managing to draw the huge crowd that typically visits the autumn festival.

The one-day festival was held from 5pm to 9pm and highlighted Japanese parlor game booths and Japanese food. A small bazaar was held during the festival, along with a kendo performance and Awaodori dances.

“It’s looking pretty good tonight,” said Saipan Mayor David M. Apatang of the festival. “…there are a lot of people here this early and I am sure there would be a lot more people coming here this evening.”

“There is plenty of food here and plenty of activities for the children,” he said. “I thank the Japanese Society of Saipan for always doing this every year for our tourists and community.”

The annual Japanese Autumn Festival usually holds the Katori Jingu Shrine ceremony at the Sugar King Park. However, according to a previous statement from Tezuka, the association decided not to hold that for this year because of Super Typhoon Yutu.

The autumn festival is usually held in late October.

Toys and masks were handed out to children during Saturday’s festival, while Japanese food were also sold through vendors in the area.

“This festival is one of many examples of the historic ties between the Marianas and Japan, and our society is warmly welcoming all residents and visitors,” said Tezuka in a previous statement.

“February is the month for welcoming the spring season and the spring season is regarded as the time when everybody starts feeling the new life coming up after the long winter season in Japan,” he said, adding that the annual festival is a means to showcase the association’s commitment to the community as well as to promote the Japanese culture in the CNMI.

Erwin Encinares | Reporter
Erwin Charles Tan Encinares holds a bachelor’s degree from the Chiang Kai Shek College and has covered a wide spectrum of assignments for the Saipan Tribune. Encinares is the paper’s political reporter.
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