Japanese culture, history, entertainment and food are celebrated every year during Nisei Week in the Little Tokyo area of Los Angeles. This year, the festivities for Nisei Week start August 15th and continue to August 23rd. Nisei Week was first celebrated in 1934. World War II stopped the celebrations for a few years, but they started up again and the festival is celebrating its “diamond jubilee” or 75th anniversary this year. The theme of this year’s Nisei Week is “Let the Good Times Roll”, celebrating the rich history of the Nikkei and Issei cultures in Southern California. The events are sponsored and put on by the Nisei Week Foundation, a nonprofit organization run entirely by volunteers, whose mission is to promote Japanese and Japanese American heritage and traditions through arts and cultural education.
The festival kicks off Friday, August 14th with the opening ceremonies of the Tanabata (Star) Festival. The actual Tanabata Festival starts Saturday, August 15th at 11am. The festival includes a parade of beautifully colored handmade Tanabata Kazari (paper ornament streamers) made by over 3,000 Japanese and Japanese American community members. This is all part of the Nisei Week Japanese Festival that takes place August 15th, 16th and 22nd and 23rd at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center (JACCC) building. The festivities include free outdoor entertainment, taiko drums, Japanese dancers, martial arts, musical performances, children’s activities, cultural exhibits, food and much more. To find out more information about the events during the eight-day festival, check out the website.
One of the highlights of Nisei Week is the Grand Parade. The parade takes place August 16th in Little Tokyo at 5:30pm. The parade is led by the 2015 Grand Marshal, Roy Yamaguchi of Roy’s Restaurants and Parade Marshal Kenny Endo, legendary taiko master. The parade will feature Japanese ondo dancing, taiko drum performers, local community groups, elected officials and the newly crowned Nisei Week Queen and her court. A rare treat for this year’s parade is the specially designed Nebuta float made of wood, special colored paper and hundreds of LED lights. These types of floats are typically a part of the annual Aomori, Japan Nebuta Festival, one of the largest and most popular parades in Japan. Look for this float towards the end of the parade.
One of the main events during Nisei Week is the Nikkei Games. The competitions and events for the Nikkei games started July 19th and will run through August 30th. The Nikkei Games originated in 1928 as the Junior Olympics sponsored by the Japanese Athletic Union. After World War II, the games changed their name to the Relays with larger track events and participation of the Japanese communities. The Relays lasted until 1992 and were revitalized in 1994 into the Nikkei Games. The games include track and field events, a karate tournament, martial arts demonstrations, basketball, softball, volleyball and golf tournaments and Taiko group demonstrations. The events are held at California State University, Long Beach and other venues throughout Los Angeles and Orange counties.
There are so many events during Nisei Week 2015 that shine a spotlight on Japanese American culture and the historic Little Tokyo area. The JACCC Building will be the focus for displays of traditional Japanese and Japanese American arts during Nisei Week. Other events will also be taking place at the Japanese American National Museum, and the Centenary United Methodist Church. The exhibitions include Ikebana, traditional Japanese flower arrangements, Japanese tea ceremony, Kimekomi Japanese hand-crafted dolls, Sashiko Japanese Needlecraft and much more.
Magellan Storage is proud to have our downtown facility at 801 Commercial Street close to Little Tokyo! See you at the Nisei Week events!