Delegation from Kawamata town joins music festival in Cosquin, Argentina

28 January 2019

Fukushima children are peppy...was the message from a delegation from Kawamata town, Fukushima Prefecture, which took part in a "Cosquin Folk Festival" parade in Cosquin, Argentina, on Jan. 26 when the nine-day event kicked off. The 19-member delegation, including 12 junior and senior high school students, conveyed to local people to the tune of folk music the strength of prefectural residents moving toward reconstruction from the Great East Japan Earthquake and ensuing nuclear accident at Tokyo Electric Power Co.'s Fukushima Daiichi plant in 2011.

The sun remained strong even at 6:30 p.m. when the parade started, with faint traces of sweat glistening on the foreheads of participants. The visitors from Fukushima, wearing "yukata" summer kimono, began walking from Plaza San Martin, named after Latin American independence hero Jose de San Martin. The Kawamata delegation was sixth from the front among some 130 groups gathered. Five junior high school students, carrying long Japanese and Argentine national flags and a "Cosquin flag" spread across with their hands, walked behind deputy delegation leader Hiroyuki Saito, chairman of an executive committee for building a town with the echo of "quena" recorder sound. They were followed by high school and adult members playing quenas and "charango" stringed instruments.

"Japon! Kawamata!" blared loudspeakers installed along the parade route, referring to the special guests from Japan. Amid applause, sounds of flutes and general uproar, a large crowd of spectators lining the street welcomed the "amigos" from 18,000 kilometers away with great enthusiasm.

Playing "Carnavalito Quebradeno" (carnival in the valley) and "El Humahuaqueno" (flower festival), the delegation walked some 600 meters in about 30 minutes on the route to Plaza Prospero Molina, a main festival venue. Some spectators chimed in with the two tunes, both folk music familiar to local people. Delegation members, asked by local people to join them for commemorative photos, struck poses and smiled.

After the parade, the visitors witnessed the opening ceremony. They were scheduled to have some other events, including an exchange program with local junior and senior high school students on Jan. 27.

It was the first delegation from Kawamata to Cosquin since 2006. Fukushima-Minpo Co., publisher of the namesake daily, commissioned a "Fukushima reconstruction ambassador" to the delegation.

(Translated by Kyodo News)