The Nihonmachi Street Fair (NSF) considers itself the original “melting pot” of street fairs, with many aspects of Asian Pacific American life — and San Francisco’s cultural life — expressed through performance, tradition, art, music, food, and community outreach and service.
It is continually evolving to reflect the city it celebrates while staying true to its original idea: to use this event as a platform to mentor Asian Pacific American youths and foster their leadership and communication skills through volunteerism and community service. The fair is produced, staffed, and organized by volunteers, thus providing practical, hands-on experience in collaboration, entrepreneurship, and problem-solving.
This year’s highlights include:
• Art & Soul of J-Town (Aug. 6, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.), a new feature whose goal is to bring together and showcase the many Asian artists in diverse APA communities. Last year, NSF honored and remembered the 70th anniversary of the Hiroshima/Nagasaki atomic bombings. Artist Leon Sun created a painting on site, while Peter Yamamoto recited his poetry. This year, the Art & Soul of J-Town will commemorate the 110th anniversary of San Francisco’s Japantown, one of three remaining Japantowns in the United States, a cultural hub that bridges the old and new, and home to many businesses and nonprofit organizations.
• Asian Artisan Area has welcomed a wide variety of artistic talent from all over the Bay Area and beyond. Many of the artisans, including Waka Ozawa, Pomegranate Designs, Kayoko Designs, Creative Accents and Fabrications, have been participating at NSF for over 20 years. You’ll find a great selection of hand-made crafts, and it’s a great opportunity to meet the artists and ask questions about their craft.
• Third annual Co-Ed Basketball Tournament (Aug. 6, 9 a.m.-6 p.m.; Aug. 7, 10 a.m.-1 p.m.) at Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California, 1840 Sutter St. during the Fair weekend at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California. Basketball has always brought communities together through Asian American leagues throughout the Bay Area and beyond. Teamwork and camaraderie mixed in with good-spirited competition are the main goals of these games. The players, their families and friends create new friendships as well as supporting NSF.
• Children’s World enables families to engage their little ones in Asian-inspired crafts and test their skills in fun games. It’s also a great way to introduce children to this important community event and encourage them to come back to volunteer when they get older. The young women of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen and Court volunteer their time and contribute their creativity.
• Doggie World (Aug. 7, 11 a.m.-5 p.m.) in Buchanan Mall, where people are welcome to enter their pooches in the fifth annual Doggie World Parade (1 p.m.). Doggie World is a gathering place for the four-legged members of the community to join in on the fun. Local animal experts and adoption agencies, as well as nonprofit organizations that provide services for animal health and welfare, will be on hand to offer tips and information, and vendors will sell a variety of items. A portion of the proceeds from Doggie World will be donated to local animal rescue organizations.
• NSF Food Fest, where you’ll get a chance to experience good food and good company, and support local nonprofits as well as businesses. From teri-burgers to adobo, okonomiyaki to waffles, there’s something for everyone.
• Third annual Sounds of Thunder Car Show, where you’ll be able to see close-up fabulous muscle cars and vintage trucks from back in the day, and learn more about these American classics. Approximately 15 to 20 cars will be showcased on both days.
• Webster Street Stage has always been one of the favorite features of the fair. This stage has presented top-notch entertainers such as Azteca, Hiroshima, the Bay Area’s Pete Escovedo and Sheila E, Jorge Santana, and much more. From hip-hop to reggae, jazz to blue grass, the stage has showcased many genres of music. Sit back and let the music groove you.
• Clear Channel Outdoor Stage in Peace Plaza, which will bring together again a diverse cultural lineup of performers that will include Hawaiian music and dance, Japanese drumming and dance, and much more. Take a seat and take in the sounds of diverse APA communities.
For more information, visit www.nihonmachistreetfair.org.