For the 76th year, Nisei Week will make Little Tokyo a little more magical. This popular festival, held over two weekends, presents an entertaining lineup of cultural events.
The first weekend, Aug. 13-14, offers several of Nisei Week’s signature events. The Tanabata Festival will fill Little Tokyo with vibrant colors from 10:30 a.m.- 9 p.m. Aug. 13 and 10:30 a.m.-5 p.m. Aug. 14. This salute to the summer skies is known for the lovely paper streamers called “Kazari” that will be hung up on display outside the Japanese American National Museum and MOCA at the Geffen. The Festival also features live performances, marital-arts exhibitions and arts-and-crafts activities. Admission is free, though some activities have a fee.
Aug. 13 also is the date of the free monthly festival at the Japanese American National Museum (100 N. Central Ave.) – and this month it will be the Natsumatsuri Family Festival. From 11 a.m.-5 p.m., you can learn taiko drumming and bon odori dance steps and create Natsumatsuri paper hats. The day will include traditional Japanese food, musical performances and a museum scavenger hunt.
As the Tanabata Festival winds down Aug. 14, Nisei Week wraps up its first weekend with a Grand Parade. Kicking off at 5 p.m., a large Nebuta float made of special Japanese paper will snake its way through Little Tokyo, followed by Japanese traditional dancers, taiko drummers and Haneto dancers.
The weekend of Aug. 20-21 also holds some interesting events. You’ll find Rubik’s wizard showing off their skills at the Rubik’s Cube Open at the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center Plaza (244 S. San Pedro St.) at 8 a.m. Aug. 20. Then, at 2 p.m., the Plaza hosts the Day-Lee Foods World Gyoza Eating Championship, where you can see who will be crowned “king of the gyoza eaters.” Throughout the weekend, the Nisei Week Japanese Festival will take place at the JACCC Plaza, concluding with the traditional Ondo street dancing at 4 p.m. The public is invited to participate in this lively celebration along 1st St. in Little Tokyo.
For a full list of Festival events, locations and times, visit www.NiseiWeek.org.