We are over a year into the COVID dilemma, and most everything around me remains closed. No concerts, no conventions, no street fairs, no nothing. These closures are disappointing but absolutely necessary. However, there is one particular area in Japan that refuses to back down from COVID fear and plans on using the fan-favorite Sgt. Frog as a friendly representative of food, fun, and merriment.
Sgt. Frog will make his amphibious presence known at an upcoming food festival in Onagawa. As the presiding guest of honor, Sgt. Frog, played by the voice actress Kumiko Watanabe, will have his own live broadcast at the fair. This grub hub will be hosted by the Kadokawa Shokudo in Tokorozawa Sakura Town, Saitama, and run from 8 to 19 March, all while bringing out the best of what the seaside town has to offer, such as their ‘Onagawa-brand’ of fried oysters and silver salmon. Besides these festivities, the interactive Da Vinci bookstore will hand out special illustrations of Sgt. Frog and raffle tickets to win all sorts of goodies signed by Frog’s mangaka Mine Yoshizaki.
Onagawa was just a quiet seaside retreat until 3/11 came and unleashed its cataclysmic chaos, destroying much of the town in the process. Yoshizaki came up with an exchange program less than a year later to help reconstruct the town, and has sent Sgt. Frog to other Onagawa festivals as an ambassador of peace. Last year saw Sgt. Frog appears on a specially-designed sake glass complete with a hand-written message from Yoshizaki to celebrate both the town and the theme of friendship.
The upcoming Onagawa food fair has taken the town nearly a year to construct, and planning has been made extremely difficult due to the ongoing COVID pandemic. Together with the people from Tokorozawa Sakura Town, the people of Onagawa plan to continue reviving the town through the representation of its cuisine.