Weekend festival honors Mr. Sweet Potato
Noguni Soukan Festival is an annual event in Kadena Town honoring a man known as Noguni Soukan, who is credited for introducing the sweet potato to Okinawa from China and thus nearly eliminating frequent famines that had decimated Okinawa’s population from time to time before.
Noguni Soukan, who worked for the central government of the Ryukyu Kingdom in the era of King Sho-nei as a soukan (manager) of trade with China, was born in the Noguni district (magiri) of Kadena Town in an area that is now the Kadena Air Base.
The title ‘soukan’ is said to refer to a position of a person in charge of management of trading ships, and tasked with offering prayers for peace and safety. His real name is not known.
Okinawa and China had close diplomatic relationship from 1373 to 1872. Noguni Soukan brought In 1605 some young sweet potato plants from Fuzhou City, Fujian Prefecture in China in 1605, and then grew them in The Noguni district, his birthplace from where the cultivation spread to all over the Ryukyu Islands.
The festival takes place every year on the first weekend of October at Kaneku Seaside Park behind Navel Kadena. As befitting to a festival that honors a man who started sweet potato cultivation on Okinawa, the event program always includes sweet potato digging tournament.
Other events include live music, haunted house, costume parade and sports events. Fireworks end the program on both days.
Organizers advise that there is no legal parking at the event site. Instead, people should use free shuttle buses that run between various parking sites in Kadena Town and the festival site.
• 15:00 Opening ceremony
• 15:15 Dance or rendition by local pre-school, elementary and junior high schools’ children and Okinawa traditional dance studios @ a stage
• 15:00 Tea ceremony @event site (10/4, 14:30~)
• 15:00~16:00 Music live @event site
• 17:00~ 20:00 Haunted house & maze @event site (10/4, 14:00~20:00)
• 16:30 Potato digging tournament @event site
• 18:45~19:45 Ryukyu Dragon Pro-wrestling
• 19:00 Hakuryu dragon dance performance of Kadena Town Youth Association
• 19:10 Music live (Dozan 11 e.x. Dozan Miki / 卍LINE / 5th Elements / DJ Kein)
• 20:50 Fireworks
• 10:00~14:00 3 on 3 basketball tournament @event site
• 13:00 dedication sumo tournament @event site
• 14:20 Noguni-Soukan parade
• 15:00 jimama live performance @stage
• 16:00~20:30 KPAS battle