Industry Festival

産業まつり

Industry Festival

Takes place December 6, 2015 from 9am to 4pm at the Gushikawa Community Center.

The industrial Fair, or sangyo matsuri in Japanese, is a fixture in the annual event calendar on Kume Island.  From the English translation you might think of cars, heavy manufacturing, and other well-known industries, but in Japan, many products are made by very small local companies rather than in large factories.  Even when big factories are necessary, there are often many small shops acting as suppliers.  Taken to a further level, small rural communities without those major industries often have a vibrant industrial community supporting local needs.  You might be surprised to learn about all the things going on around you in small local Japan.

Every year at the sangyo matsuri, an event designed to inform locals about the various products made on Kumejima and also to sell those products, the Gushikawa Community center is taken over by scores of tables and activities for everyone to enjoy.

Agriculture

IMG_4960Since Kume Island's primary industry is agriculrel, it is perhaps no wonder that  there are often plenty of produce tables outside with local farmers selling locally grown vegetables.  Groups sell everything from daikon to benimo.

On the island, sugarcane is a primary export, so there are also booths highlighting different strains of cane and a booth that produced raw sugar from the sugarcane so that the whole process could be observed, and tasted.  The workers use a machine to squeeze out cane juice then boil it down (with certain chemicals to maintain the proper ph balance) to create the dark brown sugar cubes that are a popular snack item in Okinawa.

Kumejima is also known for its prize-winning cattle. Often there is a small petting zoo set up for children to see local animals up close.  Various goats, small pigs, and even a couple of horses are showcased.

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Oceanic

IMG_4952Japan is known for the many ways its people use the ocean.  Kumejima is blessed with an abundance of natural oceanic beauty that helps support the local economy.  Many products and services are built from the ocean and are also highlighted at the event.  The most spectacular way this is done is through the creation of a shallow seawater pool.  Children were given bags and then allowed to go out into the pool to try to catch fish and kuruma shrimp with their hands.  The children have great fun trying to grasp the little fish, though some get over excited and ended up going for a swim.

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Another spectacle thrown by the local fisherman is the filleting and auction of a whole tuna.  The tuna was brought in and cut before a crowd of onlookers, then the sections of fish were auctioned off for sushi or steak.

There were also booths highlighting the various ways Kumejima uses Deep Sea Water including shampoo and cosmetics from Point Pur.

Food

IMG_4915Perhaps the most obvious way both agricultural and fishery proponents highlight their industries were through appealing to the many hungry visitors.  There are many tables selling delicious foods, including fish tempura, shrimp skewers, soups, curry, bread, miso and more.  With so many local and delicious ingredients to work with, there are always plenty of options for great food.  Local bakeries, omiyage makers, and popup restaurants all showcased the great local ingredients.

Culture and Creations

About half of the booths at the festival revolve around things that are made in Kumejima.  Two areas provide interesting takes on reclamation art, where old buoys are turned into characters or planters.  One of these groups included a game for students and was run by a local home for the impaired.

About a third of the community center interior is devoted to Kumejima's Tsumugi.  The many patterns available are displayed and several items were available for sale.  Throughout the day visitors are able to dress up in full silk kimono to show off the great beauty of the classic fabric. Local weavers also demonstrated the method of string preparation.

Of course, there was also a bit of heavy industry thrown in too.  A local solar panel company erected a giant solar panel set to encourage it adoption.

Entertainment

IMG_5085Throughout the day there is plenty to do besides shopping, fishing, and eating to keep people entertained.  The local high school band played several sets, and local nursery school teachers created balloon art.  The local radio station 86.9 FM Kumejima did a special live broadcast throughout the event (their studio is housed in the center). Athletes from Okinawan professional teams also stop by.
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