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Yaeyama Music Festival
The Yaeyama music festival is an autumn event which is held on Ishigaki's Maezato park on a Sunday during the first half of October.
Unlike the Orion beer festival, which draws high profile acts from further afield, this event places greater emphasis on performances by local artists.
The concert is open to both amateurs and professionals alike and the audition process ensures that the quality of acts is very high. In fact, I'd go as far as to say that I enjoyed 2009's Yaeyama music festival more than the the Orion beer festival a few months before, and my view hasn't been skewed by the weather as both days were marred by torrential rain.
The diversity of the acts along with the enthusiasm of the performers makes the event particularly enjoyable. Performances range from traditional shamisen renditions all the way through to hard rock covers and the schedule ensures that the festival entertains from start to finish.
In typical Japanese style all the performances are followed by short interviews which provide a nice opportunity for lesser-known artists to introduce themselves to the home crowd.
As is the case with many festivals on Ishigaki island, the Yaeyama festival offers a great excuse to over indulge in the islands liquor of choice, Awamori. It's sold at a very reasonable price of just 300 Yen a glass and the environmentally conscious among you will be rewarded with a 100 yen refund for returning your cup. Draught beers such as Orion are also available.
Food is catered for just as well as the booze by the stalls which surround the park. On the whole prices are very reasonable and there is enough variety to satisfy the tastes of most visitors. If you can't find anything that you fancy you can always wander over to the 'Coco' convenience store which is located right next to the park. Admission to the event is not controlled and you're free to bring food / drink of your choice along with you.
The Yaeyama music festival may not have the headline acts of the Orion beer festival but it's well worth checking out, particularly given that events are a bit thin on the ground as Ishigaki enters the autumn season. Naturally it is likely to be of particular interest to those wishing to hear some home-grown music and in this sense it is very popular among both locals and tourists alike.
Maezato park is located outside the city centre, but it's well within walking distance and its permanent stone stage provides an attractive centerpiece for the show.
Overall this is another great fixture on Ishigaki's event calendar which shouldn't be missed if you're on the Island during early October. The festival officially starts at 4.00pm and continues on until 9.00pm in the evening with admission being free to all.
The event is held on Maezato Kouen (Maezato Park) which is located about 2km to the east of Ishigaki's city centre. If you head out eastwards from the city on highway 390 you'll eventually find the park on the left, just after a Coco store.
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