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Food, Taiko Drumming, Bon Dancing at Mitsuwa Festival

• The sound of taiko drums, the aroma of food, and thrill of games drew thousands of people to Mitsuwa Summer Festival in Arlington Heights on August 2.
• This year, yakitori, gyoza, yakisoba, takoyaki, ramen noodle, curry and rice, corn dogs, mabo tofu, and more food were sold at food stands. Skewered beef of “Saga Gyu” was introduced for the first time this year.
• The visitors were entertained by the performances of Tsukasa Taiko, Okinawa Kenjinkai, and Shidokan Karate. Many fun games, such as corn-skin-striping competitions were held on the stage, and the challengers and the visitors squealed together for joy.
• When the sun came close to the horizon, Bon Dancing started. Many yukata-clad (summer kimono dress) visitors made circles around the festival tower and danced. The members of Wakayagi Shiyukai dance troupe demonstrated the dance, so the visitors could follow them.
• The dancing time was extended to 8: 30 p.m., so the visitors fully enjoyed Bon Dancing.

• A group of girls, who were wearing colorful yukata, came from areas of Chicago. They are members of Harajuku Street Fashion Group, who enjoy Harajuku Lolita fashion. They said that they bought yukata dresses online. Their yukata were designed and sold by a Lolita fashion company in Tokyo.

• A group from Joliet enjoyed many kinds of food such as yakisoba, yakitori, and sushi roles. They said that they were fond of Japanese culture, but had no close friend from Japan. They often watch anime and want to learn more about Japanese culture. Some members were thinking about taking Japanese language courses at school.

• The Umemoto family visited the festival for the second time since the family moved to Schaumburg from Okazaki, Aichi Prefecture last year.
• Mr. Umemoto said, “Mitsuwa’s festival looks like one in Japan, so I can fully enjoy it.”
• Mrs. Umemoto bought yukata for her family members when she returned to Japan and said, “As a Japanese, I want to wear yukata at least once a year.”

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• Masato Takai, General Manager of Mitsuwa Marketplace said he was pleased to have a big cloud in the festival and no accident had happened. “I think that more local people have joined Bon Dancing year by year, so I’m going to schedule Bon Dancing practice before the festival next year,” he said.
• Regarding fun games, he had been always looking for good ones. They have to be simple, safe, with easy to follow rules, and fun for both adults and children. He said, “Everyone enjoyed corn-skin-striping game, and children were happy to bring corn to their homes. I was pleased to see that. I’m going to plan more fun events for next year, so please come again to Mitsuwa Summer Festival.”

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• This year, skewered beef of “Saga Gyu” brought a new experience of tasting wagyu (Japanese-produced beef). A beef skewer for $10 was pretty expensive compared to two skewered yakitori for $5; however, it was worth far more than that price.
• According to Yuki Fujita of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries Department of Saga Prefectural Government, the Saga Gyu sold at Mitsuwa was the highest rank of 5 in a meat quality scale in Japan, and the highest rank of 12 in BMS.
• Kazushige Kumon of Saga Agricultural Cooperatives Meat Center said, “Some customers returned to buy more beef after they tasted them. Another customer came back with his friends to buy more. All skewered beef were sold out, and we were very pleased to introduce such fine beef to the people of Chicagoland.”
• According to Jo Nishimura of JA Zen-Noh Meat Foods Co. in Tokyo, Saga Gyu is usually served at a high-end restaurant, and the price is about $150 for a piece of steak. Saga Gyu has been exported to the U.S., Hong Kong, Singapore, and Philippines.
• Saga Gyu cattle are raised in the natural environment in Saga, whose average temperature is about 60 degrees. They said that fertile land and clean water were essential elements for breeding high-quality beef cattle.

• The full story is available in the Chicago Shimpo’s 2014, August 22nd issue.

Many yukata-clad visitors make circles around the festival tower and dance.

The visitors challenge corn-skin-striping competitions at Mitsuwa’s Summer Festival.


Performance of Tsukasa Taiko at Mitsuwa Summer Festival


An image photo of Saga Gyu
Skewered Saga Gyu was introduced for the first time at Mitsuwa Summer Festival.

A group from Joliet


The Umemoto family

The members of Harajuku Street Fashion Group