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Friday, Aug. 11, 2006
Earth Celebration 2006
By WAYNE GABEL
When & where: Aug. 18-20 at venues in and around the Ogi district of Niigata Prefecture's Sado Island. Pre-events start Aug. 13.
Crowd: An eclectic and roughly equal mix of Japanese and foreigners, ranging from artsy-craftsy types to newly arrived English teachers and jaded urbanites.
Inside track: In a summer full of carbon-copy music festivals, Earth Celebration dares to be different by booking fewer professional acts and taking a family-friendly, grass-roots approach. If it's nonstop entertainment you seek, you'll have to provide your own by whiling away the day on the Sobama Beach campground, then taking the bus into town for the nightly concert. Or making the rounds of the craft and clothing stalls in the lively Harbour Market before exploring Ogi, a sleepy fishing port. Excursions to Kodo Village, home of the taiko group Kodo, are also offered. Don't miss nearby Shukunegi, a cluster of well-preserved historic homes.
Big names: The stars are in the sky, not on stage, at this down-to-earth event. This year's guest artist is Tamango's Urban Tap, a New York-based dance ensemble that fuses elements of hip-hop, jazz, Brazilian capoeira and African-inspired percussion -- promising a "limitless number of combinations for collaborations with Kodo," according to festival artistic director Kaoru Watanabe.
Stages: Shiroyama Park hosts the main outdoor shows. Hometown heroes Kodo appear Aug. 18, and Tamango's Urban Tap on Aug. 19. On Aug. 20, the two groups collaborate, exploring "how sound and rhythm are affected by movement and vice versa," according to Watanabe. Free concerts will also be held.
Accommodation: Ogi's inns fill up quickly and can be pricey, which is why many people camp or stay elsewhere on the island. If a tent's out of the question, consider renting a car and staying farther afield, using your days to explore Sado.
Damage: Free to 5,500 yen. Passes available. Workshops require fee and advance registration.
Getting there: Visit www.kodo.or.jp/ec/en/index.html for details in English on bus, train and ferry services and lots more. English-language assistance is often available at the EC Information Centre, near the Harbour Market.