PHOTOS: 20th Annual Japanese Cultural Festival in Esquimalt draws large crowds

Furusato dancers Cris Shore (right), Tsugio Kurushima (middle) and Barbara Wilson (left) performed twice on Saturday. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Furusato dancers Cris Shore (right), Tsugio Kurushima (middle) and Barbara Wilson (left) performed twice on Saturday. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Kiyomi Nishi, 4, admired trinkets in the shopping stalls at the 20th annual Victoria Nikkei Japanese Cultural Festival at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Kiyomi Nishi, 4, admired trinkets in the shopping stalls at the 20th annual Victoria Nikkei Japanese Cultural Festival at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Karate students from Integrity Arts performed a martial arts demonstration for the large audience in the gymnasium. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Karate students from Integrity Arts performed a martial arts demonstration for the large audience in the gymnasium. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Karate students from Integrity Arts performed a martial arts demonstration for the large audience in the gymnasium. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Karate students from Integrity Arts performed a martial arts demonstration for the large audience in the gymnasium. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
The Japanese Minyo Band performed Tohoku music. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)The Japanese Minyo Band performed Tohoku music. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Karate students from Integrity Arts performed a martial arts demonstration for the large audience in the gymnasium. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Karate students from Integrity Arts performed a martial arts demonstration for the large audience in the gymnasium. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Attendees were invited to try calligraphy and learn Japanese symbols for words like ‘friend.’ (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Attendees were invited to try calligraphy and learn Japanese symbols for words like ‘friend.’ (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
The Nishi family chatted with a vendor and admired the colourful trinkets. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)The Nishi family chatted with a vendor and admired the colourful trinkets. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Staff at the food booth raced to hand out sushi, curry rice, poke bowls and more. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Staff at the food booth raced to hand out sushi, curry rice, poke bowls and more. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Mark Paterson, a member of the Vancouver Island Bonsai Society since 2002, pruned a small brush while passerbys stopped to chat. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Mark Paterson, a member of the Vancouver Island Bonsai Society since 2002, pruned a small brush while passerbys stopped to chat. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)
Furusato dancer, Cris Shore, performed for the large audience. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)Furusato dancer, Cris Shore, performed for the large audience. (Devon Bidal/News Staff)

Crowds flocked to the Esquimalt Recreation Centre on Saturday to attend the 20th annual Victoria Nikkei Japanese Cultural Festival at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre.

The free event took place from 10 p.m. to 4 p.m. and included demonstrations, food, performances and activities for folks of all ages.

The aim was to celebrate Japanese culture and tradition, so folks were invited to experience a tea ceremony, try brush calligraphy, watch karate demonstrations and traditional dances and learn about bonsai trees.

Mark Paterson, a member of the Vancouver Island Bonsai Society (VIBS) since 2002, pruned a small brush while passerbys stopped to chat. He explained that the bonsai trees are actually just regular trees that are forced to stay small. Fellow VIBS member, Silvia Schmidt, noted that the plants are kept in tiny pots so their roots can’t expand. She emphasized the importance of removing the plant every few years to brush and trim the roots so they don’t break through the pot.

READ ALSO: Japanese student delegation from sister city to visit Sidney

The Nishi sisters – Kiyomi, 4, and Ayami, 7 – attended the festival in brightly coloured kimonos. The Nishi family has been attending the festival since Ayami was a baby. The girls love watching their friends perform songs, explained their mother, Meghan. After doing a bit of shopping, the family made their way to the Kamishibai – paper-theatre – storytelling session.

Among the many performers were the Furusato Dancers who danced twice during the festival. Members Cris Shore and Tsugio Kurushima have been dancing in the group for 15 years. The 13 members of the troupe demonstrated traditional Japanese folk dances in their casual summer kimonos, holding ‘kasa’ – a large, round hand-prop used in Japanese theatre and dance.

READ ALSO: Free Esquimalt event celebrates tastes, experiences and cultures of Japan

Outside the gymnasium, event staff at the food booth raced to hand out sushi, curry rice, poke bowls and more as attendees lined up to try new foods or old favourites.

The event also featured several new additions this year – there was a Cosplay on a Budget booth, a performance by a traditional Japanese folk and Opera singer, Yuria Wakai and a Manga art display. Artists Atsushi Sugawara displayed his art and worked on new Managa creations all day long in the Kanaka room.


@devonscarlett
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devon.bidal@saanichnews.com

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