A 70-member group from Koenji Awaodori Association will be joining the festivities of this year’s Liberation Day Festival. Members of the Koenji Awaodori group come from 13 different teams that join the annual Awa Dance Festival every summer in Tokyo.
Most of the members of the group are first-time visitors on Saipan and this will also be their first time to perform with the local Awaodori team. The Tokyo Tensuiren Group, the Saipan Awaodori team’s “mother” club in Japan, comes to Saipan regularly.
They will be arriving in batches this weekend starting at 3pm today with KAA vice chairperson Yukihiro Iwanami leading the first group of performers and musicians. Thirty-seven members will plane in on Saturday with 21 coming in on Sunday.
Members of the Saipan Awaodori team and officials from the Marianas Visitors Authority will be welcoming the Japanese guests at the Francisco C. Ada/Saipan International Airport when they arrive this weekend.
Aside from joining the Fourth of July Parade on Monday, KAA will perform at the Paseo de Marianas on Sunday from 7pm to 8pm. They will then join the Saipan Awaodori team at the Liberation Day stage at 7pm on Monday.
The public is also invited to watch their free performance at PDM with spectators getting original uchiwa, a traditional Japanese fan.
Sheena Saures, the second in command of the Saipan Awaodori team, said they are excited to perform with the KAA and join them in the Liberation Day Parade. “We’ve been practicing hard for the whole week in preparation for the Liberation Day.”
“These are professional dancers that’s why the kids are excited, I’m excited. We’re all excited. This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to dance with [KAA] members who traveled to Saipan just to join the Liberation Day Festival,” added Saures.
Saures, who has been a member of the Saipan Awaodori team for more than six years, said the KAA performers that came from the 13 different groups have their own unique style of dancing in the annual festival in Japan.
She added that she’s glad to join the Saipan Awaodori team since it promotes cultural awareness as they learn about Japanese tradition, while their counterparts are introduced to the local culture.