Orion Beer Festival

"Ishigaki has a few music festivals thoughout the year but thanks to corporate sponsorship this one attracts the biggest acts. Entrance is free, the beer is cheap and the music is great. My only complaint is that like most festivals on Ishigaki it finishes far too early - 9pm!..I was just starting to enjoy myself."

The Orion beer festival is a one night event that is held at Ishigaki's Shinei park, which is located right in the center of town. A few thousand people turn out every year to check out the live music while enjoying a beer with friends under Ishigaki's mid-summer sun. Entrance is free of charge and there are no age restrictions.

Live Performances
Great Balls of Fire!The festival officially starts at around 3.30pm, however many people tend to arrive a few hours later in order to catch the headline acts. The festival is kicked off with various performances, which range from traditional Okinawan dances to foreigners miming to 'Great Balls of Fire' while bashing on a keyboard. These are followed by the main acts which include both live bands and solo vocalists.
Shinei park is of adequate size to support such an event with most people being able to find a spot on the grass to sit down and stretch out. However, if you really must have spot near the front I advise that you arrive before 5PM in order to stake a claim to your area of grass with a beach towel.
Traditional performing artist.Beer
Just in case the name hasn't given it away, the beer is as much a part of the festival as the music. This year the organisers made a token effort to prevent people from bringing their own alcoholic beverages though the gates by checking some bags (although cans Orion beer seemed to be permitted). Nevertheless, the beer sold at the festival is reasonably priced with a glass of Orion or Asahi beer costing 300 yen. A wide variety of food is also available from the stalls which surround the edge of the park.
Guitarist at the Orion Beer Festival.
At 300 yen a glass the beer flows easily, however, it should be said that the Orion beer festival is a family event which can be enjoyed by anybody. Even during the more lively rock acts most of the audience favor remaining seated over getting up to dance in Ishigaki's summer heat.
Having said that, the event is in no way boring. Many of the acts and performances are of high quality, and the festival is a great place to meet up with friends and enjoy some live music.
 Orion Beer Festival. Ishigaki Island, Japan
Campaign Girls
Corporate Sponsorship
It won't come as any surprise that the producers of Okinawa's favorite brew, Orion Beer, are the sponsors of the event, and their influence is hardly subtle. Many of the live music acts are followed by protracted announcements about how great Orion beers is from individuals ranging from official campaign girls (dressed in appropriately short skirts) all the way up to Ishigaki city officials. In fact, it was difficult not to raise a smile when the mayor proudly proclaimed that Orion beer sales now constitute 0.8% of total beer sales in Japan.
Okinawa's song about Orion beer is also played numerous times during the event, however, it must be said that it's quite catchy, and very popular amongst locals.
Find a spot, sit down, and have a beer.
The festival officially starts at around 3.30 in the afternoon and continues on until 9.00 at night, with the finale being a brief, yet impressive, firework display.
Given that Shinei park is positioned right behind the entertainment district of Misakichou there is no reason for the night to end at 9.00pm. Indeed many of the locals move to bars and Izakayas in the center of town to continue the party until the early hours after the festival has finished.

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