Ack! Been so busy this week I almost didn’t get to do a post. Sorry! Anyway, let’s get right into it!
Went down to Little Tokyo on Saturday, 13 August, and Sunday, 14 August, for the first weekend of this year’s 71st Annual Nisei Week Japanese Festival. “Nisei” means “second generation” and refers to the second generation of Japanese living in a particular country (in this case, the USA). The first generation is the Japanese-born immigrants who moved here.
The price of admission (which was free xD ) included the 3rd Annual Tanabata Festival. Tanabata is a Japanese star festival which celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi (represented by the stars Vega and Altair respectively). According to legend, the Milky Way separates these lovers, and they are allowed to meet only once a year on the seventh day of the seventh lunar month of the lunisolar calendar.
The hanging things are called kazari, and the streamers are called fukinagashi. Fukinagashi are the strings that Orihime (“Weaving Princess”) uses to weave. Pictured are Kazari from the Sendai area, which was hit by the earthquake and tsunami of 11 March 2011.
There are many different types of kazari, and many are quite fun and whimsical. Here is one of Totoro with Catbus and a ton of those dust things!
The Japanese American National Museum, which is right in the area of the Tanabata Festival, graciously waives admission fees during the festival so I had to go check it out!
One of the exhibits was Year of the Rabbit: Stan Sakai’s Usagi Yojimbo. I’ve never actually read the series; any good?
As this is supposed to be a figure blog, here are some maquettes of characters from the series!
There was also the Year of the Labbit Custom Show, where various artists customized vinyl toys called Smorkin’ Labbits to be sold and auctioned off. The proceeds will benefit the museum.
This is probably my favorite Labbit. The notes said this one was perishable, so I can only surmise that it was actually deep-fried! o.O
This year, Pacific Media Expo and the new (to me) V3 Cosplay Syndicate hosted the V3CS Cosplay Contest during the first weekend of Nisei Week. Though V3CS did wind up hosting another cosplay contest that was part of the Nisei Week festivities the second weekend, this particular one was not actually part of Nisei Week.
First time at one of these events with my DSLR! Cosplay Contests let you get much closer than at any convention Masquerade while being much less frenetic than a Cosplay Gathering. Unfortunately, I showed up like an hour late, so I didn’t get to see much of the contest.
My friend Star Cat placed first in the contest! ^_^b
There’s also a video up on my YouTube channel of the “A Whole New World” number that closed out the event!
The Nisei Festival also includes the Grand Parade, which I’ve never actually watched before. I only caught the latter part of it since I was dining with my friends Aoi Mizuno and shyot when it began.
There are many participants in the Grand Parade, including the Nisei Week Queen and Court, the cars from the Car Show, local politicians and celebrities, and Japanese cultural organizations. Here is the Rissho Kosei-kai Buddhist Church.
The tail end of the parade included the Nebuta Festival. “Nebuta” refers to the float of a brave warrior-figure which is carried through the center of the city.
You can see that it’s already dark; because of the number of participants and the pace of the performers, the Grand Parade lasts several hours!
As we wrapped up the weekend, we happened to run into the super awesome Vensy. While we were able to chat a bit, it was getting pretty late so we had to call it a night. :< I like to pretend that this picture of her being sad that we had to go. xD
If you're ever in the Los Angeles area during August, be sure to pencil in this fun festival!
Check out the complete sets of photos via the links below; for video, be sure to check out my YouTube Channel!
Full Coverage of Nisei Week Japanese Festival 2011: