Sakura Days Japan Fair - Introduced Hiragana Art

Sakura Days Japan Fair - Introduced Hiragana Art

Participants with yukata who are taking commemorative photos under cherry trees in full bloom

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 ‘Sakura Days Japan Fair’ was held at VanDusen Botanical Garden (5151 Oak Street, Vancouver) on April 6th and 7th as part of Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. In cooperation with about 180 volunteers, Japan Fair Association of Vancouver mainly planned and managed this fair. Although it was drizzling on both days, more than 7,000 people attended and enjoyed the event under the theme of cherry blossom and Japan.

 They were exposed to various kinds of Japanese cultures such as Urasenke tea ceremony, Japanese dance, Japanese drum, performance of bamboo flute and Japanese harp, flower arrangement, calligraphy, haiku (Japanese seventeen-syllable poem) workshop, yukata (Japanese summer kimono) dressing, origami (folding paper) corner, bonsai (miniature potted tree) display, Japanese sake tasting. A lot of participants eagerly asked questions at local Japanese business products, service introduction and sales booths of Japanese tea, nama chocolate (ganache), Japanese craft. In food stall area set up in the garden, a lot of people waited in a long queue to have yakitori (grilled chicken), takoyaki (octopus dumpling), yakisoba (fried noodles), which were very popular due to 30 minutes to 1 hour waiting time in the last year event.

 A person who especially attracted attention among a variety of programs was Hideki Urakami. He is a ‘MOJI artist’ who visited Vancouver from Japan to attend the fair. He developed distal muscular dystrophy at the age of 21 with little control of his limbs. Thanks to his encounter with ‘MOJI art’ book, he has drawn characters with an ink brush in his mouth since 2010. The number of his art work achieved 120 characters for the past three years.

 In his art work, one Chinese character consists of several hiragana with his own message contained. He displayed and sold his art work, such as ‘sakura (cherry blossom)’ consisting of hiragana ‘kakehashi (bridge),’ ‘huku (luck)’ consisting of ‘futsuunokoto (normal),’ ‘kansha (gratitude),’ ‘kuzuna (bond),’ ‘sachi (wish),’ ‘ai (love),’ and ‘en (emotional ties).’ In a question and answer session after he demonstrated drawing ‘gen (talk)’ consisting of three characters ‘kokoro (heart),’ he introduced his episode, ‘I come up with ideas before going to bed or in a toilet.’ Participants gave favorable comments, ‘It is fun to find hiragana which I know in difficult Chinese character.’ or ‘I want to give his art work as birthday or wedding anniversary presents.’

  In a food stall managed by Vancouver Japanese student volunteer organization ‘Japan Love Project,’ they sold about 700 dishes of yakisoba on both days. Eri Akai, public relations of the organization, said ‘The sales will be used for costs of the second Tsunami debris clean-up scheduled next month. We are also going to donate some of the money to reconstruction organization in Miyagi “Umibeno Moriwo Tsukurou Kai (Kesennuma city)” or “Umito Tomoni Tsunagaru Kai(Ishinomaki city).”’ In ‘Keiko Ai Photo Club,’ greeting cards with photos taken by the members were sold and sales will be donated to NPO Sakura Namiki Network. People still continue to support affected area of 2011 Tohoku earthquake and tsunami.

(Translated by Hiroko Shioda)