SAN FRANCISCO — Over 1,200 people crowded Japantown Peace Plaza in San Francisco on May 7 to celebrate Kristi Yamaguchi’s Children’s Day Festival in Japantown.
The event, sponsored by the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC), with support from the Henri and Tomoye Takahashi Charitable Foundation and the Hatsuro and Amey Aizawa Family Charitable Trust, celebrated children in recognition of the national holiday Kodomo no Hi (Children’s Day) in Japan.
The festival featured traditional Japanese crafts like origami, koinobori (carp banner) and hachimaki (headband) making, fishing and balloon games, and food booths hosted by local community organizations, as well as dance and music performances by youth, including odori (traditional Japanese dance), hula, ukulele, taiko, shamisen, and kendo.
Children and fans of all ages were also treated to a special appearance by Kristi Yamaguchi, who took time to meet and greet festival attendees and sign copies of her new book, “Dream Big, Little Pig.” The festival, now in its 19th year, has been sponsored by the skating and dancing star in recent years.
The theme of this year’s art contest was hopes and wishes for recovery of the Japan earthquake and tsunami victims. The 2011 Northern California Cherry Blossom Court selected the winners of the contest. The contest was sponsored by Sakura of America, which provided the materials and prizes.
The festival was the highlight of a one-week Children’s Day celebration in which the JCCCNC offered traditional kimono dressing for kids and hosted over 60 San Francisco public school classes, nearly 1,400 students from kindergarten to second grade, for their Children’s Day School Visit Program.
Children recognized their favorite Disney characters in the Hinamatsuri (Girls Day) and Tango no Sekku (Boys Day) doll displays, crafted paper koi (carp) and kabuto (helmets), and learned a Japanese folk dance. By learning about the dolls and their history and through crafts, children were able to learn and celebrate Japanese culture in a way that is meaningful to them, their friends, and their families.
For more information or to participate in next year’s Kristi Yamaguchi’s Children’s Day Festival in Japantown, contact the JCCCNC at (415) 567-5505 or email [email protected].
Clarendon Elementary School Taiko
Hālau Ka Liko Pua O Kalaniākea
Hideko Nakajima (hauta and shamisen)
Madame Michiya Hanayagi Dance Group
San Francisco Kendo Association
Activity booth hosts:
2010 Cherry Blossom Court
California Highway Patrol
Clarendon Elementary School Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program
George Washington High School Japanese National Honor Society
Japanese Community Youth Council
Nichi Bei Weekly
Nihonmachi Little Friends
Pine United Methodist Church
Rosa Parks Elementary School-JBBP
St. Ignatius Japanese Language Program