Introducing the Tenkusai Festival: Celebrating Multiculturalism and Community
Every year, Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University (APU) in Oita Prefecture hosts its annual campus festival, the Tenkusai Festival. With different themes every year, the two-day festival is filled with various booths selling ethnic and original food from around the world, flea market stalls, and exhibitions by various organizations. Participants, both students and local citizens, can enjoy performances held at the main or cafeteria stage.
Traditional and contemporary songs, dance and live performances are just some of the main attractions of the Tenkusai Festival. Campus festivals in Japan typically include performances by invited pop singers, comedians or other TV celebrities. However, at APU the Tenkusai provides a venue for its own homegrown talent to perform and demonstrate just how much time and effort the students have put into their extracurricular activities.
Other features of the Tenkusai are the flea markets and food stalls put on by student clubs and volunteers, offering yakisoba, takoyaki and other Japanese festival favorites, and also ethnic dishes from all around the world. With around 60 stalls organized, every year Tenkusai is the place to taste some of the world’s “B-grade gourmet”. Last year the Tenkusai Festival was filled with over 26,000 visitors and 60 ethnic food stalls.
The unique stalls are the best part of the festival. You will find stalls selling foods from all over the world. In addition to Japanese traditional food stalls, there are Indian, Thai, Indonesian and Korean traditional food stalls too. Most of the international food stall owners are students studying at APU. There are also many locals of Beppu and Oita who show up with their own variety of food stalls. In addition to food stalls, some stalls offer art works and crafts for sale. The festival also features exhibitions by student groups involved in volunteer activities, goods and products displayed by local communities, and projects by Ritsumeikan University student groups.
The second day of the festival is really colorful and busy. Students from different campus clubs as well as off-campus organizations in Beppu City and Oita City start give stage performances from the beginning of the second day. This includes band performances, dance performances, and karate and traditional fighting performances.
And in the evening of the final day, the festival ends with a colorful hanabi (fireworks) display. People all around the city gather on the second day of the festival to watch this beautiful light show.
The festival has applied to be listed in the Guinness World Records for attracting the largest number of participants from the most countries.
Nowadays it is not only a festival but also a part of the culture of Beppu City. It connects people from different parts of the world and gathers them at one place. If you are looking for a glimpse of the true colors of life, I recommend you visit the awesome Tenkusai Festival at least once in your lifetime.
Event Location: Ritsumeikan Asia Pacific University Campus.
Date: Normally in the last week of October until first week of November. But this year the event was held on October 15th and 16th, 2016.
View a photo gallery of the event here.