Fun Times at Nikkei Matsuri

I had a great time visiting with the kids at Nikkei Matsuri in San Jose.  I was in the kid’s craft area at Wesley, hosted by Suzume no Gakko, a summertime  school whose mission is to encourage an awareness of the Japanese-American culture and heritage.  I did two readings, followed by book signings.  The first reading went well, but midway through, a very nice woman interrupted me to explain that my voice, amplified by my portable mic, was disrupting the funeral going on in the church next door!  Apparently, the hall where I was sitting and reading shared a common wall with the church…It never occurred to me that they would schedule a service during the festival. Live and learn, I suppose.  Between readings, I watched the kids work on crafts.  I particularly liked the little paper lanterns, which the kids could color and then decorate.  The panda lantern was particularly cute, though the dragon lantern was also nice.  There were stations for the kids to make picture frames, bookmarks and buttons.  I couldn’t quite figure out the candy station – to me, it just looked like a table where the kids could eat their fill of Skittles.  For lunch, we ventured out into the festival and made our way to the food hall which was down the street, by the Buddhist temple.  We bypassed the manju booth and headed back to the teriyaki chicken booth, where we bought two huge pieces of teriyaki chicken from a guy with a cooler full of the stuff.  (It tasted better than it sounds.) I didn’t get a chance to try the tempura, but that booth had the longest lines so it must have been tasty. We sat out in the street on the curb along with everyone else and ate teriyaki with our hands. Elsewhere in Japantown was a place to get Hawaiian style shave ice.  The old 4th Street pharmacy is now a Mexican restaurant, which looked good and was very crowded.   After watching the taiko drummers perform, we headed back to Wesley, which was suddenly quite packed with kids looking to beat the heat and make some cool crafts.  We checked the church to make sure it was empty, and I did another reading.  The kids seemed to like the props, especially the sea urchin.  I signed a whole bunch of books and was asked some interesting questions from the kids, like “Do you do this as your job?  Why?” and “Don’t you get tired of talking so much?”  All in all, a very fun time. Asian American Curriculum Project based in San Mateo handled the book sales with 10% of the proceeds going to Suzume no Gakko.  Thanks, Darlene and Suzume no Gakko, for bringing me out and hosting me!

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