By Ashley Haley
Shirara-hama Beach in Shirahama Kaigan Park is a beautiful white sand beach with a gently curving coastline. This is a popular resort area that includes hot springs and the sea.
On a Sunday in late May, lots of people from around the town, neighboring towns, the prefecture, and even from abroad came to this beach. They participated in a Sand-Art Contest and the Shirahama Sand Festival. It started 47 years ago and has taken place every year since, much like the famous snow festival in Sapporo, Hokkaido. The contestants worked very hard for a half day from early morning to noon, and eventually various human faces, animals, buildings, or words appeared on the sand mounds. At 2:00 PM, the winner was announced.
The winning team turned out to be an Indian-Japanese team who shaped a beautiful Buddha and a giant panda (famous mascot of the town), along with their desire for an ongoing and successful friendship between India and Japan.
The leader of the team was Sudam Pradhan, a highly successful Indian sand artist. He expressed his appreciation for receiving the top prize, as well as his hope that the two countries will continue their good relationship forever.
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Japan is a small island nation, but we have a huge number of surprising things to discover here. Many of these delights can be found when you step off the main street onto small side paths. I really enjoy studying about and researching various aspects of traditional Japanese culture, and then sharing this information with visitors to Japan. I hope you will enjoy it, too! ARTICLE INDEX & PHOTOS: An index of most of my Japan Travel articles can be found at the entry page of my blog, and my photos are shown here. 日本はとても小さな国ですが、大通りから一本小道に入ればたくさんの発見があります。日本人が積み重ねてきた歴史を学びながら、古い建物や庭を訪ね、物語の舞台となった景色を眺めて、皆様といっしょに日本文化の奥深さを探求していきたいと思います。