Japanese culture celebrated in Esquimalt

Family event showcases arts, music, martial arts at Esquimalt Recreation Centre

Susan

Tsugio Kurushima has spent years building bridges – cultural ones, that is.

The Japanese Cultural Fair, which takes place Saturday (Oct. 22) in Esquimalt, will continue to bring together Japanese and non-Japanese communities in Greater Victoria for a 12th year.

“For our success, the whole purpose is to share our culture with the greater community,” said Kurushima, who, with the help of about 20 core volunteers, has been organizing the fair on behalf the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society. Eighty volunteers will help the day of the event.

The spectacle will showcase Uminari Taiko drummers, Furusato Dancers, ikebana flower-arranging tutorials, bonsai tree artistry, koto music, kimono-dressing demos, Japanese storytelling, a traditional tea ceremony, as well as kendo or sword-fighting and aikido, a grappling, unarmed martial-art form.

There will be a children’s activity area, and a choir and youth dance group will perform, courtesy of the Victoria Heritage Japanese Language School Society. New this year will be shodo or Japanese calligraphy demos.

The free event serves as an important fundraiser for the non-profit Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society. Money is raised through the sale of sushi, bento-box lunches and manju, a sweet cake, as well as a silent auction, raffle draw and an arts and crafts sale.

Fair proceeds sustain the society’s social programming, and help fund its grant program, which supports organizations that promote Japanese culture in the region.

Last year the fair drew upwards of 800 people, “so if it gets bigger we may have to find a larger venue,” Kurushima said, adding that organizers appreciate the recreation centre’s efforts over the past eight years to host the growing event.

Kurushima, who will also be drumming and dancing at the fair, is looking forward to showcasing Japanese culture to a wide audience, including many of the estimated 2,000-plus people of Japanese descent who live in Greater Victoria.

“What I can’t wait to see is the camaraderie in the community coming together,” he said. “It’s a nice feeling when it’s going, to see all the hustle and bustle.”

The fair happens Saturday (Oct. 22), from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre, 527 Fraser St. Admission is free. For details, please visit www.vncs.ca.

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