Every summer the large parking lot of the Venice Japanese Community Center is transformed into a carnival of kid-friendly games and Japanese culture and cuisine, and this year’s annual Natsu Matsuri, or Summer Festival, will arrive on Saturday, June 22, and Sunday, June 23.
A highlight for this year’s festival will be a performance by the acoustic band Endless Summer on Saturday evening, starting at 7:30 p.m. Endless Summer plays 1970s-era pop, R&B and Hawaiian music, and its members are Gary Maeda, Wade Inouye, Jon Matsunaga and Brian Yamamoto.
Also on Saturday will be the announcement of this year’s Nisei Week Queen candidate representing West Los Angeles and Venice. VJCC scholarship winners will also be announced.
The family-friendly event celebrates the Marina del Rey — known locally as Venice — area’s deep-rooted, decades-old Japanese American community with Japanese cultural exhibitions and Japanese and Japanese American foods such as like teriyaki chicken, Spam musubi, won ton, Okinawa dango and udon, as well as chirashi-zushi, inari-zushi and maki-zushi, as well as American-style foods and treats like chili dogs, tacos, cotton candy and flavored shaved ice.
The VJCC basketball court will host communal tables and chairs to dine, take a rest, visit with friends and watch the events that unfold throughout the day on the VJCC’s main stage, including demonstrations by the center’s various martial arts clubs, including aikidō, iaidō, judō, karaté and kendō.
In the VJCC’s classrooms and multi-purpose room will be cultural exhibitions by the center’s member clubs, including bonsai, watercolor, photography, koto, shodō (Japanese calligraphy), sumi-e (brush painting) and ikebana, plus hula and line dancing.
Featured both days will be a “country store” rummage sale, a bonsai exhibition and more. Also performing both days will be the VJCC-based Koshin Taiko, and as twilight arrives and the day cools, Japanese American ondō dancing will begin.
The VJCC is located at 12448 Braddock Dr., near Centinela Avenue, not far from both Culver City and L.A.’s “Silicon Beach” area of Playa Vista. Admission is free. Parking is available at Marina del Rey Middle School, as well as on the streets adjacent to the VJCC.
Saturday hours are 12 noon to 9 p.m. and Sunday hours are 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Unless it is a certified service animal, such as a seeing-eye dog, pets or other animals, including emotional support critters, are prohibited.