Every year on the weekend following "Golden Week" Tsukuba holds its annual Spring festival. This year's theme "Deai, Taiken, Ningen no Machi Tsukuba" roughly translates as "Encounter, Experience; Tsukuba, a City for People". (It sounds much better in the Japanese than in the direct English translation!)
As in the past, the festival will be held at the Expo Center, in the neighboring Chuo Park and along the pedestrian way as far as is needed to accommodate the stalls. Officially, the festival is from 10 am to 5 pm each day and includes a number of events on both days (though, of course, a certain number of "unofficial activities" are likely to take place outside those time slots!),
The scheduled events begin with the opening show by the Fire Department band performing on a temporary stage set up in front of the Expo Center. On both days, the Fire Department will also be giving demonstrations of emergency drills with ladder trucks and fire engines (times not announced by press time).
Within the Expo Center itself, there will be a number of displays where people will have an opportunity to experience various space vehicles, cruising through cyber space on the internet, and other such science related topics. These will be open throughout the entire period. Also within the Expo, there will be special showings in the planetarium of the spring sky accompanied by 3 short mythological tales of the heavens. There is a nominal charge of ¥100 for this show.
A special show aimed at children will be performed twice on Saturday, beginning at 11:30 and 2:30 and will include a magic show, a science quiz with prizes and an exhibition of "balloon art", with the "art" items being presented to lucky children. Since Sunday is "Mother's Day", you will have an opportunity to make a flower arrangement for mom (at a charge of ¥500 per person), with 5 separate times slots available each limited to 40 persons.
Both days will feature displays of art drawn by children from Tsukuba and Kukizaki elementary and middle schools on the theme of "my town". There will be shows on Sunday featuring popular animated characters for the children and opportunities to ride on a mini SL train and try out unusual bikes.
Children will also want to check out the toy-making booth on Saturday from 10 am to 3 pm, where such things as mini hot air balloons will be made. All of the toys will use water and/or heat for power.
On SUnday, the Tsukuba University Soccer Club will hold a special soccer class for children in the 3rd to 6th grades. They will use both the Chuo Park and the Azuma Elementary School grounds.
Of special interest to foreigners will be an introduction to Japanese culture with demonstrations of ikebana flower arranging and the tea ceremony. These will take place in the "rest house" by the pond in Chuo Park.
There will, of course, be the many booths run by businesses and non-profit organizations selling a variety of items or just advertising their existence. Among the groups represented will be the Tsukuba International School, so be on the look out for the TIS booth!
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