Okinawa Industrial Fair exhibits at Naha’s Onoyama Park
By Mana Komatsu
It is being called the ‘Total Industrial Exhibition’ with an appeal to everyday citizens.
The 36th Annual Okinawa Industrial Festival runs Friday through Sunday in downtown Naha, at the city’s omnibus Onoyama Park complex. Within the sprawling park, 497 firms and organizations will stage exhibits at the martial arts Okinawa Prefecture Budokan, around the fountain, along the river, nearby the various athletic venues, and along winding paths. A total of 2,800 products will be exhibited.
This year’s focus is on contemporary lifestyles including the display of a chopped electrical vehicle, subminiature battery car, and environment-friendly bio-based fuel, which were collaborated by companies in Okinawa. “Umanchu to tomoni nobiyuku kensanpin” means “local products grow up with Umanchu” and is this year’s theme selected by a board of review from 669 residents’ entries. “Umanchu” is the Okinawan word which means “everyone” and “citizens”. Strong feeling of “Let’s liven up Okinawan local items with us” is infused In this theme.
Organizers say they’re expecting 200,000 plus visitors across the three-day exhibition, which will showcase producers’ eagerness for customers, and consumers looking for new ideas. Okinawa developed and produced products will be highlighted. Okinawa products are gaining influence outside the prefecture, officials say, and they want to further promote the island goods across more of Asia. The first Okinawa Industrial Festival took place in 1977 to stimulate the economy after the recession after the Okinawa International Ocean Expo. All Okinawan industry, including agriculture, manufacturing industry, and service businesses are joining the festival and introducing Okinawan local items to everyone.
This year’s festival brings together Okinawan cooperation among industry, government and the academic communities and universities. Healthy lifestyle related businesses will be promoted via a panel exhibition, and the Okinawa tourism organizations will be actively pitching and promotion business commerce. There will also be an organization exhibition by middle and small business enterprises.
During the festival, an award ceremony for “select Okinawan Local products” is prepared. When a new item is selected, it will be a chance to come to be recognized. For the exhibitors, the event is an opportunity to show their special products, and catch a response from visitor’s reaction. Besides, visitors can test the new items, and this festival is interesting for both sides interaction and sharing of reactions to products.
Organizers say “when we hear that new products were sold and we received visitor’s feedback from vendors that please us, or good response from visitors, for example, they say they could find interesting items and they’re waiting for next time, we can feel that it’s worthwhile work. We’d like exhibitors to join the festival as a place to come out with their new products.” The festival runs 10 a.m. ~ 8 p.m. each of the three days.
A dozen major venues are being established again this year, wrapping around a lucky 100 booths with food, beer and other beverages. Okinawan Awamori will have its own exhibition area, and will stage awamori tastings. Visitors can expect foods, plants, juices, and more at the Agriculture and Fishery Production area. There will be venues dedicated to recycling, and products derived for sale as a result of recycling, plus housing and special displays from 49 different cities, towns and villages within the prefecture.
The exhibition is open to everyone on Okinawa. Admission is free to all venues. Food and beverages cost, as well as souvenirs, foods and other goods purchased from vendors and artists on display.
Onoyama Park is located on the south side of downtown Naha, across from Naha Port and Naha Military Port. Travel south on Highway 58 from the military bases. As you approach the river, Onoyama Park is on the left. Free parking is available at Naha Military Port; look for traffic guides. Shuttle busses will transport visitors to the festival every 15~20 minutes between 9 a.m. and 9 p.m.