It’s a party in Little Tokyo this weekend as the community kicks off the nine-day Nisei Week Festival. The cooler weather forecast for the weekend should make it a fun and festive time to come down and see the best sights the Japanese American community has to offer. Here is a listing of some of the events to take place in J-Town.
CROWNING MOMENT: The 2009 Nisei Week Queen Coronation will be held Saturday at the Japan America Theater from 7 p.m. (the Coronation Dinner to be held at Kyoto Grand Hotel & Gardens from 5:30 p.m.).
This year, seven women are vying to represent the Japanese American community, The queen candidates are: Jennifer Yoko Akamine, representing East San Gabriel Valley Japanese Community Center; Dana Fujiko Heatherton, Pasadena Japanese Cultural Institute; Michelle Yukari Hirose, Japanese Restaurant Association of America; Whitney Lee Itano, Orange County Nikkei Coordinating Council; Aimee Teruko Machida, Gardena Evening Optimist; Nicole Kiyomi Masuda, Japanese American Living Legacy and The Loft Hawaiian Restaurant; and Marisa Saori Tamaru; West Los Angeles Japanese American Citizens League and Venice Japanese Community Center.
TANABATA: Don’t forget to check out the Tanabata Festival, a new addition to the Nisei Week Festival. Friday is the opening ceremony at 5 p.m. with Councilmember Jan Perry, Consul General Junichi Ihara and Supervisor Gloria Molina followed by two days of festivities with Japanese food, games and live entertainment. Admission is free, and everybody is welcome. From Aug. 14 through 17, visitors will enjoy a breathtaking display as Little Tokyo is washed in a sea of color. Hundreds of traditional Japanese streamers, known as kazari, made by local community and non-profit organizations, will decorate the plaza in front of the Museum of Contemporary Art Los Angeles (MOCA), accenting 10 award-winning kazari flown from Miyagi, Japan, especially for the Festival.
VROOM!: The 10th Annual Nisei Week Car Show will also on Saturday at 100 S. Alameda St. in Little Tokyo from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m. The nation’s premiere auto show will feature Showoff Car Show, in which Southern California’s top show cars compete for $1,000 ($500 for runner up) and trophies, and live music. Admission is $12 at the door (children under 10 free).
GRAND PARADE: The Nisei Week Grand Parade will be held on Sunday, Aug. 16, starting at 5:30 p.m. The 2009 Grand Marshal will be President and CEO of Union Bank Masaaki Tanaka, and the Parade Marshal will be KTLA News Anchor, Frank Buckley.
The parade route begins at Central Avenue traveling west on Second Street, north on Los Angeles Street, then east on First Street and completes its procession at Central Avenue. In addition to the marshals, various local community groups, high schools, elected officials and representatives from Nagoya, Japan, as well as the newly crowned 2009 Nisei Queen and Court and other visiting Queen/Court members will participate in the parade.
Also featured at the parade is the Kodomo Nebuta Festival. Originated in Aomori, Japan, the Nebuta festival is one of the largest traditional festivals in Japan. Bringing this experience across the Pacific, the spectacular Nebuta made its Los Angeles debut at the 2007 Nisei Week Grand Parade with a massive glowing samurai warrior designed exclusively for the City of Los Angeles. Through much smaller in scale than the 17-foot tall warrior of the 2007 parade, this year’s Nebuta, called kodomo or “children’s” Nebuta, will be no less spectacular. Instead of one large float, the parade will feature several floats designed by children’s groups in Aomori. With the parade not beginning until 5:30 p.m., the lit floats trailing the parade in the twilight of a summer night truly promises to be an experience not to be missed.
FESTIVAL FUN: Street Faire & Anime Festival, cultural exhibits, sumo and martial arts demonstration will be also taking place throughout the weekend. On Saturday, the Japanese American National Museum Plaza holds its 11th annual Summer Festival. There will be face painting and a performance by Kyodo Taiko at 3 p.m., followed by Progressive Taiko at 4:30 p.m.
PARKING: Public parking for the Nisei Week festival will be available at City Hall East, P-3 & P-4, 200 N. Main Street. Enter from the Los Angeles Street entrance, between First and Temple.
Come and enjoy a great summer tradition! For more information, visit www.niseiweek.org