April 21, 1996 in City

A Sip, A Step, A Fold - A Bow About 250 Attend, Participate In Japan Week Ceremonies Downtown

Putsata Reang Staff writer
 

FOR THE RECORD: April 25, 1996 CORRECTION: In a Sunday story, an article talked about opening ceremonies for Japan Week. Besides Mukogawa Fort Wright Insitute students, Gonzaga University Japanese students also helped organize activities.

The tea was good. But not without a lot of work.

There were formalities to get through before anyone could taste the tea, like folding napkins a certain way to wipe the drinking bowl, using a whisk to mix the drink, and pouring just enough hot water for three sips. Make that two sips and a slurp.

“It’s OK to make noise,” said Seiko Katsushima as she offered the first round of tea to a woman in the audience, encouraging her to slurp. “Making sound means drinking up is a pride and honor.”

It took about five minutes just for one cup of tea.

The Japanese tea ceremony was one of several events on the first day of Japan Week that kicked off Saturday with traditional bonodori dancing. About 250 people crowded on the Skywalk level of the Spokane Transit Plaza to hear speakers, learn about Japanese attire, and make origami - animals and other objects made of folded paper.

Events continue throughout the city through April 27.

Most people came to see the dancing.

Ken Miyazono snapped pictures as his wife and daughter gracefully swayed their arms as they danced in a wide circle during the kohaku ondo dance (the fan dance).

“For people who don’t get an opportunity to travel, they get to see a sampling of the culture here,” Miyazono said.

Arlene Miyazono said Japan Week is a way for people to get to know each other.

“We are your neighbors and we want to share this with you,” said Arlene Miyazono, who wore a dark blue and white kimono to the event.

The dances were led by students from Mukogawa Fort Wright Institute, a local women’s school for Japanese exchange students.

For those students, Japan Week is an opportunity to reconnect with their culture.

“We seldom feel traditional things these days,” said Machiko Seike, one of about a dozen students who danced. “The bonodori dance is kind of few traditional things that continue to today.”

Several people in the crowd joined in the festivities as well, including Coeur d’Alene’s Savannah Patterson.

“It was fun dancing,” Patterson said. Patterson said she learned “that there’s a lot of traditional things we need to know about.”

Donna Patterson, Savannah’s mother, said she took her children to the cultural fair so they could see and hear about other people’s traditions.

“Exposure to different cultures not only breeds tolerance but acceptance,” Donna Patterson said.

Patterson organizes exchanges for Cultural Home Stay International, a nonprofit exchange organization in Coeur d’Alene.

Masako Nishimura, and her friend, Haruko Mukai, said the event was at a perfect location. They took the bus.

The pair sat in the back of the crowd where they could see all the action, including the Yukata demonstration - how to wear traditional Japanese clothing.

“It’s a lot of work putting on one of those things,” Nishimura whispered.

The Nissei (second-generation) Japanese-American women broke out in giggles, making commentaries about the complicated task of donning a kimono. It involves making special knots and using pads.

Like the tea, the women agreed it was worth it in the end - to see the ornate outfits and revisit traditions.

, DataTimes ILLUSTRATION: Color photo


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