Torrance Bunka Sai Includes Fundraising for Japan

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Mikko Henson's group played classical nagauta songs on shamisen and tsuzumi. (Photo by J.K. Yamamoto/Rafu Shimpo)

TORRANCE — The Torrance Sister City Association presented the 39th annual Bunka-Sai, a Japanese festival, on Saturday and Sunday at the Ken Miller Recreation Center.

Proceeds from the event benefit Torrance’s student exchange program with Kashiwa, Chiba Prefecture. This year, funds were also raised to benefit earthquake/tsunami relief in Japan.

Activities for children included origami and other Japanese crafts. (Photo by J.K. Yamamoto/Rafu Shimpo)

TSCA President Teri Kuwahara noted that eight local high school students were selected to go to Kashiwa in July, but that the trip has been postponed until next year because of the situation there. Many people displaced by the disaster are living in shelters in Kashiwa.

A group of students from Kashiwa will visit Torrance in August as scheduled.

The eight local students, who served as volunteers at the festival, are:

Alison Abraham, Grade 12, and Wyatt Comon, Grade 10, of Bishop Montgomery High School

Michelle Cordill, Grade 11, Kristen Inouye, Grade 10, and Rachel Todd, Grade 10, of West High School

Jonah Sakado, Grade 11, and Thomas Saraydarian, Grade 11, of South High School

Zachary Johnson, Grade 11, of Torrance High School

Accompanied by an adult leader, the exchange students stay with host families in Kashiwa for three weeks and also visit Tokyo, Kyoto and Hiroshima.

More than $3,000 was raised for a special fund established by the citizens of Kashiwa to assist the refugees. Checks payable to the Torrance Sister City Association, with “Japan Relief Fund” on the memo line, can be sent to TSCA at 3031 Torrance Blvd., Torrance, CA 90503. Donations can also be made online at www.torrancesistercity.org.

A naginata demonstration was given under the direction of Helen Nakano. (Photo by J.K. Yamamoto/Rafu Shimpo)

“This was the very beginning of our fundraising effort for this fund,” Kuwahara said. “Starting this Wednesday and every Wednesday through June, various restaurants in Torrance will donate a portion of their sales to the fund. Patrons must bring a flyer with them and it can be downloaded from our website.”

Participating restaurants:

Pat & Oscar’s on May 4

Sammy’s Woodfired Pizza on May 11

The Loft on May 18

El Paso Cantina on May 25

Souplantation on June 1

El Torito on June 8

California Pizza Kitchen on June 15

Rascals Teriyaki Grill on June 22

King’s Hawaiian Restaurant on June 29

Each restaurant’s flyer must be downloaded from the TSCA website, printed, and presented to the server.

Bunka-Sai featured an arts and crafts boutique, children’s games, a children’s art display, food concessions, cultural exhibits and cultural performances.

From left: Gail Roulette, immediate past president of TCSA; Cheryl Yamauchi, treasurer; and Teri Kuwahara, president. (Photo by J.K. Yamamoto/Rafu Shimpo)

Greetings from the Torrance City Council were delivered by Susan Rhilinger on Saturday and Gene Barnett on Sunday. Emcees for the entertainment were TSCA member Dr. Dan Fichtner on Saturday and reporter Tricia Takasugi of Fox 11 News on Sunday.

TSCA members and past exchange students put on a yukata show and performed the Kashiwa Odori on Sunday. Kishin Taiko from West Covina and Isami Taiko from Gardena closed the show on Saturday and Sunday, respectively.

The lineup included koto, tea ceremony, judo, naginata, kendo, nagauta, calligraphy, classical dance, minyo, and aikido.

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