ENCINITAS — The community celebrated Japanese culture with traditional cuisine, music and entertainment at the second annual Japan Festival held at the Encinitas Library Aug. 13th.
With sponsorships from Friends of the Encinitas Library, the city of Encinitas, and Ogata Japanese Cuisine, the event successfully accomplished what it set out to do: highlight a society infused by elements of nature, honor, grace and ritual.
“In light of recent calamities, a lot more people are aware of Japan and have a feeling to help and stay connected,” said Patricia Williams, who helped produce the festival. “Someone asked me about donations even though we aren’t supposed to take them. It just shows that people feel inspired!”
The day kicked off with a classical drum celebration called Taiko from three members of the San Diego Taiko group — Eric Franchomme, Kamille Garcia, and Carrie Kishimoto.
Originally used in feudal Japan by armies to motivate troops, set a marching pace, and call out orders in battle, modern Taiko evolved into a common feature of many Japanese matsuris (“festivals”) now celebrated throughout the year.
Following the act was a musical performance by the Masazumi Kai Koto Ensemble, who graced the audience with three songs composed of sounds from the shakuhachi (flute), koto (thirteen-stringed harp), shaminsen (banjo), and jushichi-gen (seventeen-stringed koto).
“Japanese music is like Japanese haiku,” said Jonathan Crick, the shakuhachi player of the group. “The premise underlying both is simple: take a moment in time, freeze it, and contemplate its nature. Japanese music is meant to be quiet, still and meditative.”
As the musical entertainment came to an end, James Williams and the Aiki Heiho group dazzled the crowd with an exciting Tameshigiri (sword) and Jaijutsu (martial arts) demonstration.
“Samurais teach us that ‘not fighting works better than fighting,’” said Williams, noting that a skilled warrior needs to be at harmony rather than at odds with an opponent. “We pass energy rather than stop it. Back and forth blocking as seen in Hollywood movies is inefficient, and inefficiency in samurai language means death.”
As the festival came to an end, Miyuki Matsunaga closed the show with Geta dance, a contemporary art that combines elements of Japanese modern dance, traditional dance, poetry, and theatrical techniques.
Dressed in intricate kimonos and lavished with jewelry and cosmetics, the ladies showcased choreography portraying the genuine grace and beauty of Japanese society.