Spectacular Event Kicks Off Universiade
Today, Universiade '95 Fukuoka welcomes the largest number of countries in the history of the games, and the signs are that the opening ceremony will be an extravaganza on an unrivalled scale. According to its producer, Toru Kawashima, up-and-coming movie director, and Fukuoka native son, the ceremony will be fast and furious--"The action won't let up for a second."
In the forward looking tradition of the games, the theme will be futuristic. A state-of-the-art laser and sound show will be relayed via giant screens throughout the Dome. Bungy-jumping, a giant airship, and performances on multi-tiered stages will also feature in the program.
Admission prices are certainly not cheap, but the city of Fukuoka is confident that the opening to the Universiade '95 will be far more than just another predictable games ceremony.
The Japan Experience
Program Schedule for Aug 23 thru 27
Sumo Wrestler, Kaio, visits the Disco: Aug 27 (Sun) 18:00-19:30, Disco
Tea Ceremony: Aug 26, 27 (Sat & Sun) 14:00-18:00, Tea Ceremony Room
Flower Arranging: Aug 26 (Sat) 15:00-17:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-A
Japanese-style Calligraphy: Aug 27 (Sun) 15:00-17:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1 Ceramics: Aug 24 (Thu) 16:00-17:00 / 17:00-18:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-A The Time Trip: Get a feel for old Japan by making and playing with simple toys.Aug 25-27 (Fri-Sun) 18:00-20:00, Cultural Exchange Room 1F-B
One Hour Home Stay: Aug 24 (Thu)-Aug 31 (Thu), 16:00-20:00, Cultural Exchange Room 2F-D
Fashion Show: Aug 26, 27 (Sat & Sun), 17:00-18:00, Disco
Music Ensemble: Aug 25 (Fri )-27 (Sun) 15:00-16:30, Disco
Caricature: An artist will capture your likeness in caricature. Aug 25, 26 (Sat & Sun), 11:00-17:00, Cultural Exchange Program Information Center
Name Card Corner: Print your own personal card. Aug 25 (Fri) 16:00-21:00, Cultural Exchange Program Information Center
Net Fishing: Aug 26 (Sat) 15:00-17:00, Beach
Beach Performance: Aug 26 (Sat) & 27 (Sun), 17:00-19:00, Beach
Fukuoka City Tour 'A' (full-day): Aug 26 (Sat), 9:00-17:00
Historical Sites (full-day) : Aug 25, 27 (Fri & Sun), 9:00 - 17:00 Traditional Arts and Crafts (half-day): Aug 25, 27 (Fri & Sun), 13:00-17:00
Fishing Park (half-day): Aug 26 (Sat ), 8:00-12:00
Shofukuji Temple Zen Meditation (half-day) : Aug 25 (Fri), 13:00-16:30 (For Athletes)
*Applications for each tour will be accepted 4 days in advance until 12:00 noon of the day before the tour.
"Everything is fine and I plan to go out and see the town after the competition."
Go E Mon. Named after Japan's answer to Robin Hood, this is a wonderful place to sample tofu (beancurd) cuisine. The interior - all bamboo, stone lanterns and sliding paper doors - is picture postcard Japan, yet lunch here won't break the bank. Recommended -Kenko Teishoku - Healthy Set lunch at 700 yen. Prices go up after 5 p.m. but at 1,300 yen Kaiseki Ryori - tea ceremony cuisine-is still a great deal for a special occasion.
Getting there: Subway to Nakasu Kawabata. Go out exit no. 7, head east to the next traffic light and cross the road.
Places to See
Continuing south five minutes from Go E Mon will bring you to Kushida Shrine.
An honest-to-goodness "living" shrine, popular with locals, it's not just a photo opportunity.
Walk back towards Nakasu and you'll find Kawabata Shopping Arcade - the oldest covered mall in Hakata. Recently the area has lost customers to the slicker Tenjin, but even so, you can still feel the robust, no nonsense Hakata soul here.
The Nakasu scene is different from Tenjin's Oyafukodori Street. This is where the office workers come to drink and relax, but unless you have a generous expense account very few of the 2,500 plus hostess bars in this exclusive real estate are affordable. Not to worry - Cotton Fields has beer from over 50 countries and lots of reasonably priced munchies.
Getting there: coming from Tenjin, turn right at Mister Donuts, walk four hundred yards and the bar will be on your right, one flight of stairs below the street.
Address: Nakasu 4-2-15
For dancing, Kieth Flack is highly recommended - bar and disco are separate so the music doesn't interfere with the conversation. From 8 till late, but better late than 8.
Cover - 1,000 yen, includes one drink.
Getting there: Cross the river from Tenjin. Turn right and follow the river about 4 blocks.
Address: Nakasu 4-1-8
Taking the Plunge
Bungy jumping, which features in today's opening ceremony is an extreme sport that many consider to be foolhardy: that cord separating you from eternity can look like a very thin line. The Australian team of jumpers taking the plunge today varies in age from nineteen to late thirties. "There's no age limit in bungy jumping and it doesn't require a lot of training," says veteran jumper, Gary Lovelace. Proof that he's not oblivious to the risks-"Even now, it's still a bit scary just before I jump," he confides.
Canadian Chef de Mission Confounds Locals
Although there is nothing at all strange about her, Canadian Chef de Mission Elaine Harvey is raising a few eyebrows among Fukuokans. "When I applied for the position I was aware that it's a very male dominant society, and even though that was the case I just wanted to face that challenge." And challenge it is. It seems that some officials have trouble believing that Chefs de Mission aren't always men. "People are more or less not very comfortable at first," she reports. "I think we surprised them." The 240 member Canadian delegation has three women in leadership positions.
Harvey hastens to add that Fukuokans are "very friendly, very respectful" but "they ask a lot of questions." Typically they want to know how a woman ends up getting a 'man's position,' but interestingly, they address this question to Harvey's male assistants instead of Harvey herself. The answer is that it is official policy in Canada to achieve gender balance in leadership positions. But if the Japanese are behind in gender equality they are quick to adapt to new realities. "Once you have established that you're the Chef de Mission, it's O.K.," Harvey says.