Kenjinkai Create Kazari for Tanabata Festival

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Kenjinkai members George Mori, Yoshie Sato, Yoko Mazza, Ryo Sato, Kihei Otani, Junko Yonezawa, Yoshihito Yonezawa, Hisamori Iwashita.

Kenjinkai members George Mori, Yoshie Sato (designer of red ball), Yoko Mazza (designer of blue ball), Ryo Sato, Kihei Otani, Junko Yonezawa, Yoshihito Yonezawa, Hisamori Iwashita.

Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai, made up of prefectural associations in Southern California, is celebrating its 50th anniversary and will enter two kazari decorations for the sixth annual Tanabata Festival, set for Aug. 8 to 11 outside the Japanese American National Museum and the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA in Little Tokyo.

Sumikichi Nozaki proudly displays his flower he made for the kazari.

Sumikichi Nozaki proudly displays his flower he made for the kazari.

Two designs have been created this year. Yoko Mazza (blue ball) and Yoshie Sato (red ball) are the designers for these kazari balls. The character on the blue kazari means “celebration” and the red kazari has the number 50, signifying the anniversary. The streamers, which will be done shortly, will feature a California poppy flower representing the U.S. and the revered sakura representing Japan.

Yoshihito Yonezawa realized his dream of bringing the Sendai Tanabata Festival to Los Angeles in 2009. With the sponsorship of the Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai, the Little Tokyo Koban and Nisei Week Japanese Festival, it became part of the annual Nisei Week festivities. Junko Yonezawa conducts workshops at the Koban to teach local participants how to make the giant 7-foot kazari.

For more information, visit the website www.tanabatalosangeles.org or visit the Koban at 307 E. First St. The Koban is open Monday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., and can be reached at (213) 613-1911. Kazari materials are available Tuesday to Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

The public is invited to attend the festival. Kazari will be on display from the opening ceremony on Friday, Aug. 8, at 5 p.m. through Monday, Aug. 11. The festival will take place on Saturday, Aug. 9, from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Sunday, Aug. 10, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Entertainment starts at 10 a.m. on both days with Japanese food, arts and crafts, and games.

From left: Yasoji Matsuoka, Nobuyuki Soh, Kazuhiko Nishimoto, Kihei Otani, Richard Fukuhara.

From left: Yasoji Matsuoka, Nobuyuki Soh, Kazuhiko Nishimoto, Kihei Otani, Richard Fukuhara.

From left: Happy Mizutani, Sadao Tome (president), Yoshihito Yonezawa.

From left: Happy Mizutani, Sadao Tome (president), Yoshihito Yonezawa.

Chako Ryu and Chogi Higa, former Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai president.

Chako Ryu and Chogi Higa, former Nanka Kenjinkai Kyogikai president.

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