Saturday, August 29, 2009

Nisei Week Part 4 segment 2: Big Drums and Big Dance

Finally, I have come to the conclusion of my narrative of my Little Tokyo visits during Nisei Week 2009...After the day-long taiko gathering, I wandered into the segment of 1st Street where the closing ceremonies and ondo street dancing were to take place. Since it was about a half hour before festivities were to begin, those waiting were treated to a little pre-show:

Before the ondo dancing began, one more taiko group, Zendeko Taiko (my research shows they performed with Korn on the song "Throw Me Away").

The street dance was choreographed by Madame Sanjo Kangiku, artistic director of the Kanya Sanjo V Kabuki Dance Company (research shows she appeared in David Bowie's "The Man Who Fell To Earth" film). Community groups, and people on the sidewalk who knew the dance, formed a loop that went around both sides of the street where the dancers performed ondo dance down around (I'm now sure of a better way to describe this, but I hope the pics explain it).

In the interest of brevity (and I'm too tired to compress pics), I'm only showing one of the more interesting community group in the ondo street dancing:

Apparently, Thriller syncs up well with songs used for ondo dancing.

After the dance, the Nisei Week Queen and court, along with city and community leaders (no mayor, though) made some speeches at the announcers booth. Then previous Nisei Week queens came up to make an appearance.

Well with that, the 69th Annual Nisei Week came to a close...After a little Korean BBQ, I made the long drive back home...

I wished I took video of the dance and taiko so you the reader can see what it's all about (it's more than what you see in anime...), but I did take a lot more pics of the different yukata/kimono designs I saw at the dance. You can find these pics at

Monday, August 24, 2009

Nisei Week part 4 segment 1: Big Drums and Big Dance

Fun Fact: The oldest open business in Little Tokyo is Fugetsu-Do on First Street, a few doors down from Jungle Collectors Shop 2nd store.

Because I didn't realize that there would be continuous taiko all day, I had to skip checking out the cultural exhibits. Maybe next year I'll arrive early to see them all.

So pretty much before the closing ceremonies/ondo street dancing, I plopped myself in a chair to catch almost nonstop taiko.

The first group, which I arrived late for, was Togen Daiko from Oxnard:

Followed by Okinawan drum dancing by Ryukyokoku Matsuri Daiko which incorporated some vocals from a recorded track:

Next up was Senyru Taiko from U.C. Riverside:

Then L.A. Matsuri Taiko:

Then a group from Cal State Northridge...I'm not sure if they were trying to be funny when they were founded in 1995 by calling themselves Jishin (earthquake) Taiko...

From the East San Gabriel Valley comes Kishin Daiko:

Another L.A. group, Progressive Taiko (I wish there was a USC taiko group...I would've joined):

and Orange County is represented with U.C. Irvine's Jodaiko:

And finally the showstopper, the youth taiko group Kitsune Taiko based in Little Tokyo:

Surprisingly, the changeover between groups was quick, resulting in things ending about 30 minutes ahead of schedule. Fortunately, many of the members of Taiko Project were performing with their local groups during this gathering, so they could quickly gather together and play one more song to fill the time:

Coming up, the final segment of part 4, the Big Dance Part of the day...

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Nisei Week part 3: Not Vomiting, Nebuta, and Next Generation

I met up with my cousin today for lunch in Little Tokyo where we ate at a new place that offers a pricey seafood don set that is free if you can finish the entire set in less than 15 appropriate to eat at a place like this since we would be watching the Gyoza Eating Championships later...I never ate at this place before, so we opted for much smaller sets...

The Nisei Week Gyoza Eating Championships is an official competitive eating event sanctioned by the International Federation of Competitive Eating, so many of the competitors have demonstrated an ability to eat at record speed. However, a spot was auctioned off to a rabid fan, one of the wingerdingers, I think, who got the opportunity to eat alongside the reigning champion from last year's contest, Joey "Jaws" Chestnut.

The goal was to eat the most gyoza in 10 minutes to win $1000...fortunately only one person was disqualified because he vomited. The results were expected with Joey winning first place...I can't remember exactly how many he ate, but I know it had to be greater than 128 gyoza:

Well my cousin was grossed out by the event and went home, so I went exploring more cultural exhibits, such as the Nebuta floats from last weekend's parade that were on display:

And some bansai:

(I have more, but I like to only give a taste of what I saw so that you may interested in attending next year's event...).

Since there was time between the eating contest and the Next Generation Remix concert, I wandered towards Jungle Collector's Shop, where I discovered a new cosplay book that contains pics from Japanese and American cosplayers along with cosplay tips and costume patterns...I might post a review of that book in a later post as I didn't read through all of it. However, a father sitting next to me while I was looking at the book before the concert was interested, but I didn't ask if he was into anime that much...

On the way back to JACCC (Japanese American Cultural & Community Center) plaza, I came across a dog wearing kitty clothing:

And a one-man band who appeared on America's Got Talent and Jimmy Kimmel Live:

The Next Generation Remix (NGRemix) was kicked off by a performance by Taiko Project:

Followed by OC singer/songwriter Kacie Yoshida with accompanying guitarist (sorry, but I forgot his name...)

Then the rock/metal band Sibrian in their last performance:

I really liked their pirate music piece...too bad I wasn't able to snatch up one of the CDs they were giving away...

This was followed by Filipino rapper Bambu, who was asking the camera guy to do close up shots because he wasn't able to get most of the audience to stand up during his set:

Then another MC, EyeASage, took the stage...I wish I could do a concert report, but I have never heard of their music before tonight, though I have heard of Taiko Project before but never listened to them perform...

And finally, American Idol finalist Camile Velasco closed out the night:

A great performance overall featuring a good variety of music genres represented to appeal to the wide age range of audience members from children to seniors...I wish I had more backup batteries so I could have recorded video, but all my rechargeable batteries for my primary and secondary cameras were low, and I didn't pack alkaline batteries as a backup. And I only use the camera on my phone to record where I park...

So that's the last Saturday of Nisei Week in a nutshell for me...Time for sleep now that I'm caught up...