Parents who have tried to take their children on museum outings might recognize what a formidable challenge it can be to get them excited about traditional arts. Kijimuna Festa, a theater festival in Okinawa for children and young adults, was founded with this issue in mind.
The festival was born from casual beginnings in 1994 when local communities from across the island came together to find ways to promote culture, education and the arts to young people in a way that would educate and inspire them. Off-shoots continued locally for years before Kijimuna became as organized as it is today, with its official start being the summer of 2005. The festival's philosophy is closely tied to the Okinawan spirit through the theme of "theater is nuchigusui (medicine for the soul)."
Today, Kijimuna has grown to become Asia's largest youth-theater festival. Last year, it attracted a total of 42 participants, who staged 86 productions. It also hosted the first summit of the International Association of Theater for Children and Young People (ASSITEJ). Through continued international collaboration, Kijimuna hopes to further inspire creativity in young people around the world.
This year's productions include troupes from many countries including Sri Lanka, Italy and Australia, bringing a diverse flavor to the program. The festival offers something for everyone, with a wide variety of plays for all ages, as well as some that are aimed at specific age groups.
Kijimuna Festa takes place in Okinawa City, Okinawa, from July 20-28. Performances will be held several times a day. Ticket prices vary, with children's tickets available at a discount. For more information, call 098-981-2100 or visit www.kijimuna.org.