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Children's Festival: Traditions of Japan attract intrepid Fat Cat to the Orient

The bright lights of Tokyo reflect the modern aspect of Japan, a country that is also steeped in long-held cultural traditions.   - Contributed
The bright lights of Tokyo reflect the modern aspect of Japan, a country that is also steeped in long-held cultural traditions.
— image credit: Contributed

Just a quick cat nap on the plane and Fat Cat has landed in a new country for the next leg of his global adventure—Where in the World is Fat Cat?

Our Facebook page had great clues. Have you been following along?

Check it out for a fun online journal of Fat Cat’s adventures at www.facebook.com/fatcatfestival. You also will have a chance to win two tickets anywhere WestJet flies.

So let’s tour vicariously and discover where Fat Cat is.

From Shanghai, after only a short flight across the China Sea, Fat Cat has landed in the island country of Japan, made up of more than 3,000 islands.

There are four main islands and the capital city is located on the largest one, Honshu, which is literally translated as the Main State.

The other three main islands of Hokkaido, Kyushu and Shikoku are connected to Honshu by tunnels or bridges.

Honshu is the seventh largest island in the world.

With a total population of over 103 million people, it is the second most populated island.

You have probably guessed that Fat Cat is in Japan, the land of the rising sun, and he sends a hearty ‘Konnichiwa’ from Tokyo and also Kelowna’s sister city of Kasugai.

Originally, Fat Cat was planning to only visit Japan’s capital to experience the amazing lights and action of the world’s most populous metropolitan area.

The population is over 33 million, twice that of Shanghai’s metropolitan area, and 16 times that of the Lower Mainland.

However, because this is the 30th anniversary of the Kelowna-Kasugai sister city relationship, a quick trip with the Shinkansen, or bullet train, to Kasugai seemed like a great idea.

The Shinkansen trains travel at over 300 km/hour so the trip only takes a little under two hours—by car, the trip would take over five hours and Fat Cat would have to drive on the left-hand side of the road.

So the bullet trains were definitely the best option.

Getting around Tokyo, Fat Cat prefers public transportation and the bicycle. It’s fabulous because the train stations always have huge bicycle parking lots for commuters.

Japan is a land of deep traditions and culture and Fat Cat is lapping it all up—the intricacies of a tea ceremony (a quiet, meditative experience), the history and traditions of sumo wrestling (wrestlers have to live by very strict rules both in and out of the ring and always throw salt in the ring before each bout) and the beauty of Hanami, or Cherry Blossom Viewing, which seems to be a national pastime.

Sakura, or cherry blossoms, represent the end of winter and the arrival of the blossoms, closely watched by the Japanese who plan family outings to parks and shrines to enjoy the blossoms at their peak.

Fat Cat is super excited because this year’s festival will feature taiko drumming with Kelowna’s own Yamabiko Taiko and also storytelling based on a Japanese tradition of Kamishibai or paper theatre.

With Kamishibai, the storytellers ride around on bicycles and tell dramatic tales using large colourful pictures which have been created by Jeff Chiba Stearns, a well known former Kelowna resident, artist and animator.

The sun is about to set on this leg of Fat Cat’s journey, but stay tuned to where our intrepid young traveller is heading next on Facebook.

Sayonara.

***

The Interior Savings Fat Cat Children’s Festival is an annual event offering performances, arts, workshops and activities for kids of all ages.

The Capital News is a proud founding sponsor, actively part of the festival for the past 21 years.

Fat Cat’s global adventure comes to its conclusion on June 10 and 11 at Waterfront Park for the annual Fat Cat Children’s Festival.

For more information on the Fat Cat Festival, check out the Fat Cat website www.fatcatfestival.ca.

Dorothee Birker is the media coordinator for the Fat Cat Festival.

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