Nebuta floats will light up the streets of Little Tokyo again making a return engagement at this year’s Nisei Week Grand Parade on Sunday, Aug. 16. Two years ago a colorful Nebuta from Aomori Prefecture was the dramatic highlight of the annual parade.
Mike Okamoto, chair of the Nebuta Committee, explained that this year’s version will bring a Japanese American community feel to the traditional floats. There are eight floats planned for the parade, most created by local organizations. The largest is a float being brought from Aomori Prefecture entitled “Ancient Drum Beat” and depicts two Jomon-era drummers. The float base will be constructed of wood and lit by environmentally-clean LED lights, rather than a gas generator.
“Hopefully we can keep this going as a tradition,” Okamoto said.
The themes reflect Nisei Week and Japanese traditions. Aki the Akita, Nisei Week mascot, will be joined on a float by a golden dolphin (shachihoko), a symbol of Nagoya, in honor of the sister city relationship between Nagoya and Los Angeles. Other floats will depict kingyo (goldfish), ogi (Japanese fan), a cityscape of Los Angeles and a depiction of Little Tokyo by the interns of the Nikkei Community Internship program.
The public is encouraged to join in and this year children are welcome too. In 2007, the large Nebuta, which was rotated and moved throughout the street, was too hazardous for children to participate. The nebuta will also be joined by taiko drummers, flutists and Haneto dancers.
“We’d like to encourage family participation,” Okamoto said.
To participate in the parade as Haneto dancers or volunteer staff, please access www.nebuta-la.org for on-line registration.