The 20th annual Japanese Cultural Fair on Oct. 26 will feature delicious Japanese eats including bento boxes, manju, sushi and more. (Facebook/Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society)

Free Esquimalt event celebrates tastes, experiences and cultures of Japan

Manga, sake, lolita fashion and more highlighted at 20th Japanese Cultural Fair

Education, culture and entertainment collide at the 20th annual Japanese Cultural Fair, with plenty of exciting new educational and entertainment events on this year’s docket.

There’s no need to buy a plane ticket for an authentic experience – families can enjoy the sights, sounds and tastes of Japan at this once-a-year cultural gem hosted by the Victoria Nikkei Cultural Society at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre.

Amidst Japanese dance, music and more (including performances by the Victoria Heritage Language School) visitors can taste the traditional flavours of Japan such as sushi, poke, bento boxes, curry rice or sweet manju desserts. Shino Yamashio and Anton Ihl of E:Ne Raw Food and Sake Bar will be at the fair to provide samples of sake and share some insight into the history of the quintessential Japanese drink and its pairing with both cuisine and culture.

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Visitors can dive into some traditional Japanese experiences by checking out brush calligraphy and martial arts or popping in for a traditional tea ceremony. Families will also have the opportunity to try their hand at Ikebana (flower arranging) or making traditional Japanese food.

Education abounds with exhibits from Uminari Taiko, the Gorge Park Teahouse, the Vancouver Island Bonsai Society and Tsukino Con. Plus visitor can get their shopping fix in the bazaar area of the Jubilee Hall, where there will be books, baked goods, manga and more.

If that isn’t enough for a day of free, family fun, then the entertainment and education might do the trick. Manga artists Atsushi Sugawara will not only display his art, but will work on new creations all day long in the Kanaka room.

Meanwhile Donovan Aikman, the former programmer for the Victoria Film Festival, will speak to guests on the “gems and genres” of Japan’s cinema history, diving into the lesser known gems and genres. Aikman will speak in the Craigflower Room at 10:45 a.m.

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At 1:15 p.m. the Craigflower Room will be filled with the sweet melodies of Yuria Wakai, who will perform traditional Japanese folk songs. The event is Wakai’s first visit to Canada.

Zanda MacNeil, the Victoria’s Lolita community coordinator, will take over the Craigflower room at 1:45 p.m. to present on lolita fashion subculture, created by Japanese women in the ’80s.

The 20th annual Japanese Cultural Fair is on Saturday, Oct. 26 at the Esquimalt Recreation Centre from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Admission is free.

For more information visit vncs.ca/wordpress/.


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