By Isabelle Menezes
For The North American Post
THE 7TH ANNUAL Bellevue College Japan Week event is scheduled this year from September 25 – 30. While the weekday sessions are open to BC students only, the public is invited to our festival day on the BC campus, Saturday, September 30, from 10 AM to 5 PM. It is being planned by the college’s Japanese Culture Exchange Club (BC, JCEC).
Japan Week is hosted by JCEC with support from the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle. We are also recruiting 200 volunteers to help us run the event! Please join us.
Our very special guest this year is Rakugo (Japanese-style) comedy storyteller, Katsura Sunshine! As Mr. Sunshine will be coming all the way from London to perform at BC, we’re very excited and fortunate to have him here (funded by the Tateuchi Foundation). His show, free of charge, will be on Saturday, September 30, 2:30 – 3:30 PM at Carlson Theater (doors open, 1:30 PM).
Among the festival activities, guests will be able to enjoy singing their hearts out in our Karaoke Room, with a machine that has 30,000 songs available. For people who would like to enjoy some calm, serene time, the Urasenke Tea Ceremony and Ikebana (flower arranging) demonstrations will be good spots. If you’d like to learn about Japanese American experiences during World War II, we will have sessions on how the Puyallup Fairgrounds were used as a temporary concentration camp. We will also hear stories about Nikkei soldiers from the Nisei Veterans Committee. Furthermore, international students from Japan will be organizing Dango Cooking Workshops throughout the day (supported by Uwajimaya). There will also be storytelling and folktale constellation shows in the BC Planetarium. Visitors can also stop by our Japan Market/Flea Market to shop for various donated Japanese and non-Japanese items.
Guests can drop by the Yukata and Photo Booth to try on different yukatas and happi coats (provided by the Japanese Consulate, Seattle). They can then take pictures in front of a backdrop featuring a lovely Japanese castle (donated by the Eastside Nihon Matsuri Association, ENMA). There will also be stations where visitors can enjoy folding origami, play the board game Go (Japanese chess), watch calligraphy demonstrations and more.
As in previous years, participants can submit photos online for our Character Bento and Origami Contests. On Saturday, they can participate in the in-person Cosplay Contest, Kendama Competition and Japan Trivia Quiz. A Paper Airplane Contest is new this year, with three age divisions: kids (12 and under), teens (13 – 19) and adults (20 and over).
Japan Week also presents many music and dance performances on the festival day on the cafeteria stage, in outdoor courtyards (Taiko Drum groups), and at Carlson Theater (martial arts demonstrations).
Every year, JCEC members decide on a new Kanji (Chinese character) to represent that year’s event. For Japan Week 2023, our members settled on the character 福 (fuku), meaning fortune. In Japanese mythology, there are seven fortune gods, 七福神 (shichi fukujin), which matches up nicely with this year’s festival number. We look forward to having good fortune this year at the event and making it as fun and enjoyable as possible for our guests!
All proceeds will go towards supporting JCEC’s activities and future Japan Week festivals. We appreciate the generous support from BC and from local organizations including the Kawabe Memorial Fund, Asia-Northwest Cultural Education Association, Japan Business Association of Seattle, and many others.
Details for each of the contests is on our website:
Editor’s note. More on Rakugo Sunshine is at napost.com (Oct. 2020).