VJCC to Hold Annual Natsu Matsuri

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Games for kids are among the attractions at VJCC’s Natsu Matsuri. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

The Venice Japanese Community Center will present its annual Natsu Matsuri, or summer festival, on Saturday and Sunday, June 23-24.

The family-friendly event celebrates the Marina del Rey — known locally as Venice — area’s deep-rooted, decades-old Japanese American community with Japanese cuisine and Japanese cultural exhibitions, as well as American-style foods and treats like chili dogs, tacos and sno-cones.

Every summer the VJCC’s parking lot is transformed into a carnival of easy-going games for youngsters, plus a baseball-throw dunking booth for older kids.

The many food booths will also sell perennial favorites like teriyaki chicken, Spam musubi and udon, as well as chirashi zushi, inari zushi and maki zushi.

The center’s basketball court, meantime, becomes filled with 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 (aikidō, iaidō, judō, karaté and kendō) and short programs by Venice Gakuen, hula dancing and line dancing, koto, and shodō (calligraphy).

Also performing both days will be the VJCC-based Koshin Taiko, and as twilight arrives and the day cools, Japanese American ondo dancing will begin.

On Saturday will be the announcement of this year’s Miss Western Los Angeles, the Nisei Week Queen candidate representing VJCC and the Venice-WLA JACL. VJCC scholarship winners will also be announced.

Sunday will feature a doughnut-eating contest at 2:30 p.m. and later that day, the winners of the raffle will be announced.

Featured both days in the VJCC’s main hall and classrooms will be the Pioneer General Store. Walk over to the Cultural Expo and view photography and cultural exhibits of bonsai, watercolor, shodō, sumi-é, and ikebana.

The VJCC is located at 12448 Braddock Dr., near the intersection of Braddock and 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 noon to 9 p.m.; 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.

Serving as this year’s festival co-chairs are Pat Dempsey, Kazie Kame and Debbe Watanabe. For more information, visit vjcc.com, email [email protected] or call the VJCC office at (310) 822-8885.

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