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Friday, May 9, 2008

Festival to serve up tastes, sounds of Thailand

Staff writer

Spicy tom yam kung (spicy shrimp soup) blende with Singha beer, beautiful Thai silk and traditional dancing.

Tokyo's Yoyogi Park will become a little Thailand this weekend (May 10-11) at the ninth Thai Festival, being staged by the Royal Thai Embassy.

Based on the theme "Partnership — Hand in Hand," the annual event promotes Thai culture and features a variety of activities to advance exchanges between Thailand and Japan.

A number of Thai restaurants in the Tokyo area will set up stalls to sell various Thai foods such as phat thai (fried noodles) and kaeng khiao wan kai (green chicken curry).

Thai beers, fruit juices and the multifarious ingredients of Thai dishes will also be available at stands. Other booths will sell silver products, accessories and silk fabrics made in Thailand. there will also be exhibitions of Thai dance, sports and music.

The Thai traditional dance group Srisompetch will perform in styles from four regions of Thailand on Saturday from 11 a.m. to noon, and from 4:30 to 5 p.m. On Sunday, they will perform from 10:30 to 11 a.m. and from 4:30 to 5 p.m.

Popular musicians and singers from Thailand are also set to appear.

Tewan Novel Jazz will play from 2:50 to 4 p.m. on Saturday and from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Sunday. Potato, Off Pongsak and Ya Ya Ying will perform from 5:30 to 7 p.m. on both days.

A unique aspect of this festival will be the hoop takraw competition. In this difficult, traditional Thai game, also called circle takraw or Thai basketball, each team of six or seven players will attempt to kick or head a woven rattan ball through a basket suspended 5 meters above the court as many times as possible — without letting the ball touch the ground.

The event organizers are appealing for visitors to bring their own chopsticks and eating utensils to reduce the amount of waste. The first 500 people who bring their own chopsticks will get a present from the organizers.

The festival runs from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Yoyogi Park is a 10-minute walk from Harajuku Station on the JR Yamanote Line and seven minutes on foot from the Meiji-jingumae and Yoyogi-Koen stations on the Chiyoda subway line.

For more information, visit the Royal Thai Embassy's Web site at www.thaiembassy.jp

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