35 Years of Japanese-Canadian History and Culture: Powell Street Festival 2011

I’ve been to Japan twice and often miss hanging out with my Japanese friends. Luckily, last weekend almost felt like being back in Japan. Powell Street Festival, which celebrated its 35th birthday this year and took place on 30 and 31 July 2011, brought back lots of good memories. Over two days there was an unbelievably packed schedule of everything Japanese: from children’s origami workshops to modern and traditional music, a craft and food market, dancing and singing as well as various cultural and sports displays, even a sumo tournament.

I had a great time volunteering. I was mostly based at the children’s tent helping kids make face masks, decorate warrior hats or create origami animals. I also sold raffle tickets (first prize was a trip to Japan, sigh) and worked with security, making sure that festival patrons found everything they were looking for.

One of my highlights at the festival was a documentary called ‘One Big Hapa Family’ by local Japanese-Canadian animator and filmmaker Jeff Chiba Stearns. It explored the history of the Japanese in Western Canada and the stories of people with mixed-race identities. The other event I really enjoyed was the Japanese history walking tour around the Powell Street area, where the first Japanese immigrants to Vancouver originally settled (see also the website of the Japanese Canadian National Museum in Burnaby)

And of course I also had some Okonomiyaki, which reminded me of a night in my friend Sakiko’s house in Japan, when I had this yummy dish for the first time and how I wrinkled my nose at the dried fish flakes that actually moved on the hot pancake…now I can’t get enough of it!


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