Nihonmachi Street Fair: An Asian Pacific Celebration

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SAN FRANCISCO — The 39th annual Nihonmachi Street Fair will be held on Saturday and Sunday, Aug. 4-5, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Post Street in San Francisco’s Japantown.

Founded in 1973, the Nihonmachi Street Fair was hatched as an idea to provide leadership and mentorship opportunities for the youth of J-Town and to honor the cultural heritage that was, at the time, at risk of being displaced. Since then the annual event has grown from a four-booth affair to a two-day event expected to draw over 30,000 guests in 2012.

What makes this street fair a uniquely San Francisco event is the broader cultural context participants can experience in addition to traditional Asian Pacific influences. The organizers have a long history of including local entertainment that has spanned genres from taiko to hip-hop to salsa, rock, and jazz.

The event is produced, staffed, and organized by youth volunteers, thus providing practical, hands-on experience in collaboration, entrepreneurship, and problem-solving.

Above and below: Scenes from the 2011 Nihonmachi Street Fair.

Entertainment will be featured on two stages, the Ho`olaule`a Stage on Post Street and the Webster Street Stage. The schedule (subject to change) is as follows:

Webster Street Stage

Saturday, Aug. 4

11 a.m.: TBD

12 p.m.: The Official Story

1 p.m.: Love Struck

2 p.m.: JAM

3 p.m.: TBD

4 p.m.: Johnny Hi-Fi

5 p.m.: San Francisco Taiko Dojo

Sunday, Aug. 4

11 a.m.: Cherng Loon Lion Dance and Yet Another Hero

12 p.m.: Latin Jazz Youth Ensemble

1 p.m.: Fun and Furry Pooch Doggy Contest

2 p.m.: SOL

2:45 p.m.: GroovMekanex/Lil G and Morimoto

3:45 p.m.: Tracy Cruz

5 p.m.: Rendezvous

Ho`olaule`a Stage

Saturday, Aug. 4

11 a.m.: Maunia Polynesian

12 p.m.: Mele Ohana

1 p.m.: Isaiah “Izzy” Holokahi and Raymond Macapagal

2 p.m.: Rahiti

3 p.m.: Joel Dela Merced and Hula Halau O Makapua

4 p.m.: Ke ‘Olu Makani `O Mauna Loa

5 p.m.: Moana

Sunday, Aug. 4

11 a.m.: Mishibana-kai San Francisco and Miwa-kai San Mateo

12 p.m.: Karikatan Dance Company

1 p.m.: Mele Ohana

2 p.m.:  Ke ‘Olu Makani `O Mauna Loa

3 p.m.: Mango Kingz

4 p.m. Moana

Other NSF highlights:

• Children’s World enables families to engage their little ones in Asian-inspired crafts and test their skills in fun games. It’s also a great way to introduce children to this important community event and encourage them to come back to volunteer when they get older.

• Doggie World — for the first time, a gathering place for the four-legged members of the community to join in on the fun. Local animal experts and adoption agencies will also be on hand to offer tips and information.

San Francisco’s Japantown has raised over $3 million for the northern Japan earthquake relief efforts; however, there has been very little attention or effort toward rescuing surviving cats, dogs and livestock from the Fukushima “No Entry Zone” resulting from the nuclear accidents. Partial proceeds from this year’s NSF will benefit the Hachiko Coalition, a non-profit organization that draws attention to the plight of animals and pets left behind within Japan’s radioactive exclusion zone. There is still much to do.

San Francisco is frequently cited as one of America’s most pet-friendly cities, especially for dogs. It’s a city with luxury dog hotels, gourmet pet food, a “happy pet hour” — and dogs outnumber children. Attendees are welcome to enter their pets in the first annual Fun and Furry Pooch Pageant and Doggy Parade.

• The Asian Artisan area has welcomed a wide variety of artistic talent from all over the Bay Area and beyond. Many of the regulars, like Waka Ozawa, Pomegranate Designs, Kayoko Designs, Creative Accents and Fabrications, have been participating for over 20 years. You’ll find a great selection of handmade crafts all created with an artistic eye. It’s also an opportunity to meet the artists and ask questions.

• The Food Fest represents one of the core values of the NSF — support for nonprofit Asian Pacific Islander community organizations. Food booths are a basic means of grassroots fundraising. Long-time participants such as Kimochi Inc., API Legal Outreach, Asian American Recovery Services and Chinatown Youth Council have become the pillars of the Food Fest. By purchasing a burger, a plate of riblets or garlic fries, you’ll support critical programs and services.

For the past three years, NSF has welcomed small businesses to take part in the Food Fest. Last year, two food trucks made their public debut: Adam’s Grub Truck (Asian fusion sandwiches) and Got Plate Lunch (Hawaiian lunch plates). Through the Food Fest, they were able to build a customer base and following.

For more information, visit www.nihonmachistreetfair.org.

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