Twice each year, Tsukuba has a major festival, once in the Spring (the International Festival in May) and once in the fall (usually, the first weekend in September). The festivities officially begin at noon on Saturday, continuing til 9 pm that evening, and then going from 10 am to 5 pm on Sunday. Over 140 organizations will have booths set up in the area beginning at the Tsukuba Center Plaza and extending south to Takezono Park, near Daiei.
Various musical groups have been selected to perform in the sunken stage area behind the Daiichi Hotel, and the plaza will feature numerous handcrafts and specialty products. At the Fureai Plaza in Takezono Park, 30 groups (including Tsukuba International School) will be under the tents and will feature games, foods and crafts for sale.
This year, the main road through town, Tsuchiura-Gakuen Sen, will be closed to auto traffic between Higashi and Nishi Odoris between the hours of 5 pm and 9 pm on Saturday, and a variety of parades, including the local omikoshi (highly decorated, traditional floats supposedly carrying the local Shinto gods), will take the place of the cars. There will also be a parade of world flags and people in native dresses.
Other events include the nice smile contest sponsored by the Tsukuba Dentist Society (12:30-1:30 Sat. at the Tsukuba Center Plaza), an opportunity for the kids to ride a live pony (9:30-3:15 Sunday at Takezono Park) and catch dojo fish in the pond with bare hands (2:30-3:00 Sat. Takezono Park), an opportunity to experience what flying in space would be like (sponsored by NASDA from 10:30-11:00 on Sunday at the Center Stage) and sumo exhibitions by professional wrestlers from the Isei no Umi Stable (1-4 pm Sat. Takezono Park). Numerous other events and contests too numerous to mention will be taking place, and so this is a great opportunity to have some inexpensive fun. More detailed information will be available from the Tsukuba Information Center, a good place to stop off at during the festival, as it's right on site.
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