Tanabata Festival Recognizes Best Kazari

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Winning kazari were submitted by (from left) Teramachi (institutions/nonprofit organizations), Nanka Tochigi Kenjinkai (Japanese Prefectural Association of Southern California), Landon Novo (individuals/families), Councilmember Mitchell O’Ferrell (government), America Miyazaki Kenjinkai (anime/manga), Gedatsu Church (people’s choice — individuals/families), All Nippon Airways (business and Founder’s Award, overall winner).

The ninth annual Los Angeles Tanabata Festival was held on Aug. 19 and 20 in Little Tokyo, preceded by an opening ceremony on the night of Aug. 18.

The festival displayed 120 kazari (large paper ornaments) at the outdoor space near the Geffen Contemporary at MOCA and the Japanese American National Museum. Anchored by award-winning kazari shipped from Sendai in northeastern Japan, are created by members of the community.

Kazari were judged in six categories: Anime/Manga, Business, Government, Individuals/Families, Japanese Prefectural Association of Southern California, and institutions/nonprofits organizations.

The Founder’s Award is selected from the first-place winners of the six categories. Judges were Leiton Hashimoto, Nisei Week Foundation president; Deputy Consul General Kazutoshi Hayashi, Consulate General of Japan in Los Angeles; Gary Mayeda, JACL national president; and Yasumasa Hirayama, Japanese Prefectural Association of Southern California. The People’s Choice Award recipient was chosen by those who attended the festival on Saturday.

Masumi Muya, festival chairperson.

Judges for the overall contest were Angela DeGroot, Japanese Village Plaza; Ellen Endo, Little Tokyo Business Association; Nancy Okubo, Union Bank; Maria Kwong, Japanese American National Museum; Kihei Otani, Orange County Japanese American Association; Queen Jaclyn Tomita, First Princess Megan Ono, Miss Tomodachi Julia Tani, Princess April Nishinaka and Princess Shannon Tsumaki of the 2016 Nisei Week Court; Yasue Clark, Little Tokyo Service Center; Helen Ota, Japanese American Cultural and Community Center; Tomoko Sakuta, Japan Foundation; Woody Scofield, Museum of Contemporary Art; Susan Yokoyama, Pacific Citizen.

Many participants entered multiple kazari in different categories or brought kazari from previous years to try to capture an award. First- through fifth-place awards wre bestowed in each of the six categories.

With “Heroes” as the theme, the winning entries were:

Award recipients included Gedatsu Church (represented by Mark Ishida, left) and ANA (represented by Kyoko Fischman, Setsuko Kawano and Vicki Ichiyama).

Founder’s Award – Overall Winner

All Nippon Airways

Business

1st — ANA

2nd — Anzen

3rd — Japanese Restaurant News

Government

1st — Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell

2nd — Consulate General of Japan

3rd — Supervisor Hilda Solis

4th — San Gabriel Valley Service Center

Manga/Anime

1st — America Miyazaki Kenjinkai

2nd — Nicholas Gladkov

3rd — Nerv

4th — Yonezawa grandchildren

5th — Yonezawa grandchildren

Individuals/Families

1st — Landon N. Novo

2nd — Gregory Gladkov

3rd — Miyako Kadogawa

4th — Poppy Kwong

5th — Poppy Kwong

Japanese Prefectural Association Of Southern California

1st — Nanka Tochigi Kenjinkai

2nd — Hiroshima Kenjinkai

3rd — Nanka Miyagi Kenjinkai

4th — Ehime Kenjinkai

5th — Nanka Yamaguchi Kenjinkai

Nonprofit Organizations

1st — Teramachi

2nd — NALC USA

3rd — Japanese Women’s Society of Southern California

4th — Japanese American National Museum

5th — Little Tokyo Historical Society

People’s Choice

Gedatsu Church

Teramachi’s kazari was dedicated to the Issei pioneers. Nanka Tochigi Kenjinkai depicted legendary archer Nasu no Yoichi. Novo’s kazari featured Moana and Maui from Disney’s “Moana.” O’Farrell’s contribution was a model of Los Angeles City Hall. America Miyazaki Kenjinkai depicted Deku from the anime “My Hero Academia,” while Gedatsu Church chose the title character from Disney’s “Big Hero 6.” ANA’s theme was “Anyone can become a hero,” and its kazari included people from various professions, such as doctor, teacher and police officer.

Large kazari from Sendai.

“This colorful event is a tradition throughout Japan, which we are proud to have brought to share with the multicultural Los Angeles,” said festival chairperson Masumi Muya. “It is a festival that celebrates the meeting of two star lovers who are separated by the River Milky Way. Once a year, the two stars are allowed to meet, a day to have wishes granted. This is a romantic folklore story which is hundreds of years old.”

“How fitting that this festival takes place in the historic heart and home of the Southern California Japanese American community, which embodies the inspirational story of sacrifice, perseverance, and hopes and dreams realized,” Consul General Akira Chiba said in a statement.

ANA’s kazari depicted everyday heroes.

The opening ceremony featured entertainment by Yuujou Daiko, Minyo Station, musician Scott Nagatani, and Nancy Teramura Hayata and her Japanese classical dance troupe, a kagami-wari ceremony and sake tasting.

The weekend festival included food, a beer garden, games, information booths, and music and dance performances.

Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo

Gedatsu Church’s kazari was based on the Disney movie “Big Hero 6.”

Teramachi’s kazari was dedicated to the Issei pioneers.

Nanka Tochigi Kenjinkai depicted legendary archer Nasu no Yoichi.

Novo’s kazari featured Moana and Maui from Disney’s “Moana.”

Councilmember Mitch O’Farrell’s contribution was a model of Los Angeles City Hall.

America Miyazaki Kenjinkai depicted Deku from the anime “My Hero Academia.”

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