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Ukrainian evacuees join Osaka summer festival, wish for early end to war

OSAKA -- Three evacuees from Ukraine joined Osaka's summer tradition Aizen festival on June 30, taking part in the carriage procession while donning Japan's traditional yukata summer attire.

    Ukrainian evacuee Olha Sung is seen on a carriage during the Aizen festival in Osaka's Tennoji Ward, on June 30, 2022. (Mainichi/Ai Kawahira) =Click/tap photo for more images.

    During the festival, held until July 1, a statue of Ragaraja, the principal deity at Aizen-do temple in the city's Tennoji Ward, was shown to the public for visitors to wish for success in business and marriage.

    The carriage procession, where yukata-clad women are transported from an area near JR Tennoji Station to the temple, is the festival's highlight, but since 2018, it had only been held on the temple grounds due to security issues and then COVID-19.

    This year, the carriages were back on the streets, with six women from in and outside Osaka Prefecture on them, along with three Ukrainian evacuees studying at the vocational school Seifu Institute of Information Technology in the city's Abeno Ward. The temple had proposed to the school that the Ukrainian women join the festival to experience Japanese culture.

    Olha Sung, 37, who had fled the Ukrainian capital Kyiv with her son, commented with a smile that she thought the festival was wonderful. She also touched on the Russian invasion of her home country, saying that she hoped it would end soon and that her family could also evacuate to Japan.

    (Japanese original by Chika Yokomi, Osaka Bureau, and Yumi Shibamura, Osaka City News Department)

    In Photos: Yukata-clad Ukrainian women take part in Osaka festival

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