Cultural celebration
Japanese festival promotes understanding

The largest Japanese festival in the Southeast opens Saturday at the Convention Center at Gwinnett Center.

According to organizers, the event typically draws more than 18,000 people over the course of the two-day festival promoting understanding between Japanese and Americans in the Southeast.

The rock band Sinatra will travel from Japan to perform at this year's festival, and classical musician Yoko Hiraoka, a native of Japan, will play the biwa, a Japanese-style flute. Classical Japanese and Okinawan dance will be presented, and martial arts demonstrations will be given.

In its 22nd year, JapanFest 2008 will explore the culture and history of the Heian Period, 794 to 1185 C.E., with a focus on "The Tale of Genji," what is considered the world's first novel. Professors from Atlanta universities will present lectures on the history, culture, fashion and language of the Heian Period.

Those who attend the festival are invited to partake of Japanese cuisine and shop for Japanese goods, including books, kimonos, tea, dolls, ceramics, clothing, toys and rice paper. Japanese companies based in Georgia will also display products in the Made in Georgia exhibition.

For more information on this event, visit www.japanfest.org.

SideBar: If You Go

What: JapanFest

When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday

Where: Convention Center at Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth

Cost: $8 per person and children 6 and younger are free

More information: www.japanfest.org