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Friday, Aug. 10, 2012

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Chill out: The crowd enjoys a good soaking at last year's Mizukake festival.

Water festival promises to cool you down


By MAAYA KONAGAI
Staff writer

The Songkran festival celebrates the New Year in Southeast Asian countries such as Thailand. Revelers douse one another with water in the hopes of bringing good health and a bountiful harvest.

In Japan, it's just a fun way to beat the heat.

Those close to the capital can experience the Southeast Asian festival in the city of Saitama when their version of the Songkran — the Mizukake Matsuri and World Festa — takes place Aug. 10-12 in the vicinity of Saitama Super Arena.

This event was launched in 2002. Visitors are allowed 90 minutes to play in the water and soak each other to the bone. Afterward, the festivities seem to expand their scope beyond Southeast Asia as dancers perform traditional routines from Hawaii, India, China and Spain to name a few. Vendors selling food also go global and dishes from around 20 different countries will be available, including Thai, French and Jamaican.

The mercury in Saitama and the surrounding area has been hitting temperatures well above 30 degrees Celsius in the daytime, so spraying your friends and family with water can be a welcome retreat from the heat. For people trying to save electricity amid the country's current setsuden (energy conservation) trend it's a welcome alternative to air conditioning. The nation's water conservationists, however, might not be as happy.

The Mizukake Matsuri and World Festa will take place at Saitama Super Arena's Keyaki Hiroba on Aug. 10 and 11 (10 a.m. till 8 p.m.) and Aug. 12 (10 a.m. till 6 p.m.). Admission is free. Watering time will take place twice a day (11 a.m. till 12:30 p.m. and 1:30 p.m. till 3 p.m.). For more information, call (048) 601-1122 or visit www.saitama-arena.co.jp/mizukake12.


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