Making cross-cultural connections with people around the region is a big part of the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society’s activities throughout the year.
The volunteer group hopes to enrich those connections further this Saturday (Oct. 21), when they host the 18th Japanese Cultural Fair.
“We have third- and fourth-generation Japanese-Canadians living in Victoria,” says society president Tsugio Kurushima. “This fair is a way for them to connect with those cultural and ethnic roots, but it also serves as an outreach to the greater community.”
An example of how the fair and its related activities bring together locals of Japanese heritage came during the recent preparation of manju, the traditional Japanese confection, for the concession. “We had 25 people there helping out, including some [Japanese] exchange students who said they had never experienced this sort of thing at home.”
The availability of that and other traditional foods such as prepared chicken or vegetarian bento boxes, onigiri rice balls and special YYJ dogs – hot dogs with Japanese toppings – is one of the mainstays of the fair.
So is the entertainment, which includes the always popular Taiko drummers, songs from Soran Bushi and the Youth Choir, musical performances of minyo and koto (stringed instrument) and shakuhachi (flute), a Bon Odori folk dance performance by the Furusato Dancers and presentations of classical Japanese theatre.
Hands on demonstrations feature bonsai gardening, ikebana flower arranging, growing Japanese vegetables and how to stage a traditional tea ceremony.
Some new elements that organizers are excited about is an interactive haiku poetry presentation, hosted by local Haiku Canada president Terry Ann Carter, a presentation of Japanese classical theatre by University of Victoria Japanese studies faculty member Cody Poulton, and a martial arts demonstration by the Victoria Judo Club, which will complement the annual aikido and kendo demos.
“We have amassed quite a following over the years,” Kurushima says.“By having these different things, like haiku, we’re hoping to expand our potential audience demographic.”
The fair, free to attend, takes over the Esquimalt Recreation Centre (527 Fraser St.) community use areas from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.