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Celebrating Year of the Pig at Wing Luke Museum

by Stephanie Ikeda, the North American Post

The Wing Luke Museum in Chinatown International District hosted a lion dance celebration Saturday morning, February 2nd to commemorate the upcoming Lunar New Year on February 5th. The event included speakers as well as a drumming performance in addition to the main lion dance. Emceeing was Michelle Calderon of KOMO TV, and key speakers included Ellen Ferguson, co-chair of the Wing Luke Board and Community Relations Director of the Burke Museum, and Washington State representative Sharon Tomiko Santos. Speakers mentioned the importance of Lunar New Year in the region as a major holiday for the many immigrant populations that live here. The performing group was the LQ Lion Dance Team, a youth group dedicated to the cultural art of lion dancing. The group is based in the Co Lam Pagoda of Seattle, a Vietnamese Buddhist temple.

Celebrating Year of the Pig at Wing Luke Museum

To commemorate the Year of the Pig, this year’s lion dance told a traditional story of a lion who helps a pig trapped in a pond. In the process of saving the pig, the lion senses food hidden somewhere in the area and must use his senses to find it. The story was told using props and several different traditional lion costumes, worn by two people at a time to form the front and back legs of the lion. The head of the lion is controlled by the arms of the dancer in the front. Dancers encouraged audience participation by posing for pictures with audience members, accepting offerings to ensure good luck through the year, and passing out candies to the crowd. More experienced dancersalso performed several stunts, working in teams to make the lion appear to be standing on hind legs, or climbing stairs. The event was a great success in bringing an auspicious and festive mood for the new Lunar year.

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Stephanie Ikeda is a fourth-generation Japanese/Chinese American originally from Orange County, California. Stephanie’s grandparents are from China on their mother’s side and Japan on their father’s side. Both her grandfathers were born in California to farming families but went to China and Japan respectively for their educations before marrying and starting families back in the U.S. Stephanie and her siblings grew up in a close-knit but small section of the Anaheim Japanese American community which influenced her involvement in the broader Nikkei community after moving to Seattle in 2012 to attend graduate school at University of Washington. She currently works as the Museum & Grants Manager at Japanese Cultural & Community Center (JCCCW), also known as Seattle Japanese Language School, and volunteers with the Minidoka Pilgrimage Planning Committee.