One Last Dance

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Dancers from the San Fernando Valley Japanese American Community Center join in the public ondo, closing the 70th Nisei Week Festival on Sunday night. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

With taiko drums and a colorful procession of dancers, the 70th annual Nisei Week Festival concluded on Sunday night on First Street in Little Tokyo. More than 700 dancers circled First Street passing below the newly rebuilt Yagura at Japanese Village Plaza. The Nebuta warriors from last weekend’s parade were placed at either end of the street and the central yagura was decorated with colorful Tanabata kazari.

The closing ceremony began with taiko performances by Venice Hoshin Taiko and LA Matsuri Taiko. And then it was time to dance.

“Don’t be hazukashii (bashful),” called out James Okazaki to the crowd, some of whom brought lawn chairs to watch the spectacle. “Just come out and join in.”

Venice Koshin Taiko perform at the Taiko Gathering on Sunday. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

The dancers performed some familiar classics such as “Tanko Bushi,” “Sho Tokyo Ondo” and “Ichi Tasu Ichi (One Plus One).” For the first time, the public ondo also included the Okinawan song, “Asadoya Yunta.” At the conclusion, Nisei Week choreographer Madame Fujima Kansuma was presented a bouquet of flowers.

Other weekend highlights included the Taiko Gathering and cultural arts at the Japanese American Cultural and Community Center.

Japanese bonsai on display at the gallery of the Japanese American Culture and Community Center. (MARIO G. REYES/Rafu Shimpo)

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