Cowra is busily preparing to say konnichiwa to the attendees of the 2019 Cowra Festival of International Understanding this coming weekend.
This year's guest nation will be Japan and the program has been jam-packed with opportunities to experience and enjoy Japanese traditions and culture.
Cowra Mayor, Cr Bill West, said it was exciting to have Japan return as the guest nation.
"Because of our unique historical links, Japan was invited to be the first official guest nation for the Festival in 1966," Cr West said.
"Fifty three years later, we are honoured to welcome Japan back as our guest nation.
"The Festival provides an opportunity to strengthen our relationship and for a greater understanding and appreciation of each other’s history, culture and character," he said.
This year's festival has seen the launch of the inaugural Cowra Festival Karaoke Competition, with the third and final heat of the competition being held last Saturday.
Other activities leading up to the Festival weekend include Taiko Drumming workshops, Kabuki performances, a Haiku competition and the ‘War and Peace in the Pacific 75’ exhibition in Council’s foyer.
The Festival opening dinner will be held on Friday, March 15 at the Cowra Services Club and will feature traditional Japanese cultural performances, with tickets for the evening available to purchase from Council’s customer service, or Council’s website. The annual Festival Parade and Carnival at Bryant Park will follow on Saturday, March 16.
Carnival highlights include demonstrations in Taiko drumming, calligraphy, origami and metalsmithing, tea ceremonies, and appearances by the Sydney Kimono Club and the Sydney Sakura Choir.
There will also be performances by the Cowra Town Band, Cowra Vocal Ensemble, Cowra Ballet School, wrestling demonstrations from Central West IWC and martial arts from Kumiai Ryu.
The Festival will conclude on Sunday, March 17 with martial arts demonstrations at the Cowra Japanese Garden and a Japanese Film Festival at the Cowra Civic Centre.
Mayor West thanked all who supported this year's festival.
"I would like to make special thanks to our Festival sponsors; an event of this nature could not be presented without the tremendous support of the Australia-Japanese business community," he said.
"Thank you to the Cowra schools, sporting clubs and community organisations that continue to get behind the Festival each year."