yuujou daikoThe 19th annual Monterey Park Cherry Blossom Festival, a tribute to the beauty of Japanese culture, was held April 16 and 17 in Barnes Park. Above: Yuujou Taiko, which is based at Gedatsu Church Los Angeles in South San Gabriel, performed on the outdoor stage. One of its unique features is the use of a Western drum set to accompany the taiko. The group’s name means “friendship.”

koshin taikoKoshin Taiko, which is based at Venice Japanese Community Center, played handmade okedou or rope-tightened drums. The group’s name means “bright heart and spirit.”

yoki daikoYoki Daiko, which is based at Tenrikyo Church in Boyle Heights. The group’s name means “joyous drumming.” Other taiko groups performing at the two-day festival were Ryukyukoku Matsuri Daiko, Kyodo Taiko, and TaikoProject.

ogawa-ishibashiKaren Ogawa, festival chairperson, and Grant Ishibashi, a festival sponsor, cooked meat in the food court.

kuramoto-cornwellJune Kuramoto (koto) and Kimo Cornwell (keyboards) of the band Hiroshima.

lora nakamuraLora Nakamura, author of “The Bonsai Babes,” sold her book and related merchandise.

kayama puppet troupeKayama Puppet Theater, founded by Isoko Kayama, performed “Hana-saka Jii-san,” a Japanese folk tale about an old man who could make withered trees blossom.

brian kitoBrian Kito of Little Tokyo’s Fugetsudo gave a manju-making demonstration and served samples to the audience.
kageyama-yamauchiActor Rodney Kageyama served as emcee of the outdoor entertainment. He is pictured with playwright Wakako Yamauchi, with whom he has worked at East West Players.

azuma kotobuki kai1Above and below: Azuma Kotobuki Kai, a branch of Azuma-Ryu Classical Dance School in Tokyo, founded in Southern California by Madame Sumako Azuma I and currently instructed by Sumako Azuma II and Kikusue Azuma. Other performers/demonstrators during the weekend included Mark Keppel High School Aztec Dancers, Garvey Ranch Dojo, Madame Fumi Akutagawa (kimono fashion show), Local Mojo, Andy Matsuda (sushi demonstration), Matsutoyo-Yamatogaku (nagauta), Magic Wayne, Shinshi (guitarist), Mark Keppel High School Pep Band, Mele Ohana Ukulele, U.S.-Chinese Wu Shu Martial Arts, Ohana Polynesian Dancers, Kokoro (band), Nancy Hayata and Little Tokyo Dance Club, Kuntau Martial Arts Academy, Sunny and Judy Seki (storytellers), Kyo no Kai Kabuki, Michael Sanders (origami), Allen Oshiro (magician) and Mario Seki (magician).

azuma kotobuki kai2

Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo

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