Sep 30, 2009

The National Athletics Festival In Niigata

The 64th National Athletics Festival (KOKUTAI) has been taking place in Niigata prefecture from 26 September to 6 October. The KOKUTAI has been held since 1946 in rotation basis among 47 prefectures in Japan. That means this is the second time for Niigata to host the event. Last one was in 1964 and it has been remembered by many in different ways. 1964 was the year of the Olympic Games in Tokyo and because of the date of the Olympic, KOKUTAI was shifted to June instead of usual September or October. But also it is remembered because of the earth quake in Niigata immediately after the KOKUTAI. Because of the disaster, summer event of the KOKUTAI in 1964 was cancelled.

For the opening ceremony of the KOKUTAI, Emperor has visited Niigata for 3 days. Photo above is the motorcade of Emperor on their way to the Hotel Okura near the Cathedral. There were quite heavy security by Police including Imperial Guard Police from Tokyo. The motorcade took more than 10 minutes to pass by, which was completely opposite of the Presidential motorcade I witnessed several times in Ghana. They went very fast but the emperor's motorcade goes very slow so that emperor has chance to wave to gathering crowd.

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