53rd Annual Ginza Holiday: A Japanese cultural festival

The festival will be held Friday, Aug. 8, to Sunday, Aug. 10, on the temple grounds at 435 W. Menomonee St. in Chicago's historic Old Town.

Named for the markets of Japan, Ginza Holiday is the largest and most elaborate Japanese event of its kind put on annually in Chicago. It offers a weekend of Japanese cultural exhibits and demonstrations, classical and folk dances, martial arts, Asian food and merchandise for sale, and more. The temple grounds are transformed into a Ginza street with colorful lanterns illuminating the evening with its warm welcoming light. The Ginza street is lined with booths selling Japanese dry goods, kimonos, toys, jewelry, T-shirts, books and much more.

Highlighting the festival will be four skilled master craftsmen (Waza) from Tokyo, who will demonstrate their generations-old skills creating their unique crafts. This year, the team will include a smoked pottery maker, a bamboo craftsman, a wood carver and an embroidery expert. Their products will be for sale. MBT is privileged to have the master craftsmen grace the festival as they only make limited visits to the United States. This will be an opportunity for one to purchase the handmade items without having to make a trip to Japan.

The astounding sounds of the taiko, Japanese drums, will fascinate visitors as they watch the performances of the three popular acclaimed taiko groups – The MBT Taiko Group, the MBT Ho-Etsu Daiko Group and the Twin Cities' Kogen Taiko Group. The Na Kupuna Ukulele Group will enthrall its audience with a selection of Hawaiian songs and island humor.

On stage, traditional Japanese stories will be told through the medium of dance performed by the Fujima Shunojo Classical Dance Troupe. The talented, disciplined dancers will be costumed in elaborate, colorful kimonos. Also on the program will be folk dances of prefectures of Japan performed by the MBT Minyo Troupe. Although their kimonos are not as elaborate as the classical dancers', they are interesting and sometimes whimsical. Also on stage, self-defense tactics will be demonstrated by Aikido, Judo and Karate schools, while Kendo (Japanese fencing) will also entertain the crowd.

The exhibit hall will be filled with demonstrations and exhibits of bonsai, ikebana (flower arranging), kaminingyo (paper dolls), calligraphy, brush painting, silk flowers, Japanese arts and crafts and a haiku contest. Many of the products will be offered for sale. Also on display will be gorgeous kimonos which can be purchased.

New this year is the ever popular anime, Japanese animation, for the otaku and festival-goers of all ages. Japanese anime, videos, manga and collectibles will be available for sale.

There will be no doubt as to the location of the festival food court when the tantalizing aroma o f MBT's famous grilled chicken teriyaki wafts over the neighborhood. Year after year, repeat-visitors look forward to dining on this mouth-watering chicken dish – a huge, half a chicken, chopped into serving pieces, accompanied by a scoop of rice, cole slaw anda fortune cookie. Also, for the hungry festival-goer, sushi and udon (Japanese noodles) and a vegetarian plate will be available. Snow cones, edamame, corn-on-the-cob, kintoki (Japanese snow cone topped with sweet azuki beans), iced tea, lemonade and soft drinks also will be sold.

The chapel will be open for guests who are interested in observing the place of worship and learning the basics of Buddhism. During intermissions, Rev. Bryan Siebuhr, MBT resident minister, will deliver 15-minute Dharma talks.

A benefit donation of $4 for adults and $3 for students and senior citizens will be collected at the gate. Children under 12 will be admitted free when accompanied by an adult. Opening and closing times are: Friday, Aug. 8, from 5:30 to 9 p.m.; Saturday, Aug. 9, from 11:30 a.m. to 7 p.m.; and Sunday, Aug. 10, from 11:30 a.m. to 6 p.m. The festival will close with a raffle drawing on Sunday, Aug. 10.

For information, call (312) 943-7801 or visit www.midwestbuddhisttemple.org.

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