With the beginning of service on the Tsukuba Express train to Tokyo beginning on August 24, 2005, there are numerous events of interest coming up. The annual Tsukuba Festival set for this coming weekend will be particularly eventful, but there are also special events going on during the week as well.

Probably the most interesting will be the "Tsukuba Express Illusion" show scheduled for Tuesday evening featuring "Princess Tenko", a well-known magician. Perhaps she'll make a Tsukuba Express train disappear before your eyes! Princess Tenko made a big splash in the Japanese news media last year when she went to North Korea to do a show there and enamored Jongil Kim (Sp?), the enigmatic North Korean dictator. Her performance is to begin around 7:50 as a part of the "night before" opening festivities scheduled to begin at 4:30 and continue until 9 pm at the Tsukuba Capio Hall. There will be other live performances, including a band, going on as well. Some 2000 seats will be set up in the hall, and once they are filled, you can't get in. It's on a first come first served basis, and is free.

In addition to the usual fare during the Tsukuba Festival on Saturday and Sunday, there will also be numerous street performers doing their thing as part of Art Town Tsukuba 2005. The shows begin at noon on Saturday and continue until 9 pm, picking up again at 10 am on Sunday and going all day until 9 pm. Apparently, most of the action will be taking place in the Chuo Park near the rocket and down to the Nova Hall area in the central plaza. The "International Food Court" that has been a part of every Tsukuba Festival will be bigger and better than ever, with all the extra things going on. They’re even giving it a new name — "World Restaurant". There will also be an "Art Market", which is supposed to have various items from around the world for sale.

One other thing that might be of interest is an exhibition at Seibu on the children’s classic, "Thomas the Tank Engine", which was begun in England some 60 years ago. It runs thru the 31st, from 10 am to 8 pm. There are also two free shuttle buses that runs from Wednesday thru Sunday, one going from Tsukuba Center to the various science institutes and the other up to Mount Tsukuba, about once per hour. The paper, however, did not give a timetable.

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