SAN FRANCISCO — After a two-year hiatus, the Northern California Soy and Tofu Festival, a celebration of the joy of soy, returns Saturday, July 2, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., to San Francisco’s Japantown.
For the first time since 2015, after four years at a nearby indoor facility, the festival returns outdoor to Japantown’s Peace Plaza, Post and Buchanan streets.
“We were encouraged to re-launch the Soy and Tofu Festival by the huge attendance at the recent Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in April,” said Nichi Bei Foundation President Kenji G. Taguma. “There, many visitors to our booth asked when the Soy and Tofu Festival was going to come back, so we decided to regroup in a short time frame of just two months of planning.
“We also wanted to do our part to bring people back to Japantown, which has been devastated by the COVID-19 pandemic, with many businesses closing. With the tremendous support of our first presenting sponsor, the Japan Center Malls East and West, we are able to bring it back to the Peace Plaza for the first time in seven years to help support the merchants.”
While the event is a signature fundraiser for the Nichi Bei Foundation, supporting the publication of the Nichi Bei Weekly — the first nonprofit ethnic community newspaper of its kind in the country — this year, the Nichi Bei Foundation will be donating partial proceeds to the Nikkei Community Internship program, administered in Northern California by the Japanese Community Youth Council.
“The Soy and Tofu Festival has been a vehicle for community-building and leadership development,” Taguma said. “The Nikkei Community Internship program, which is designed to develop future community leaders by placing them in summer internships at nonprofits throughout three Japantowns, is aligned with that vision. We are proud to be able to give back a little to a program that has benefitted us with countless interns, and to recognize the important partnership with JCYC over the years, who have provided countless volunteers for the Festival and other events.”
The festival will feature soy and tofu vendors such as:
• Morinaga Nutritional Foods, with Strawberry Banana Tofu Smoothies
• Hodo Soy
• Bachan’s Japanese Barbecue Sauce
• Nichi Bei Café, featuring Mabo Dofu, Inarizushi and Natto
• Pine United Methodist Church Wafu Dogs
• US SoyPresso
• Tong Irene Suh
• Mume Farms
In addition to free soy and tofu samples, food vendors, live performances and artisan vendors, there will be audience participation games and children’s activities. There will also be a raffle for two round-trip tickets to Japan, courtesy of Japan Airlines.
There will be live performances by:
• Sacramento Taiko Dan
• Singer Larissa Lam and rapper Only Won
• Jiten Daiko
• Gee Yung Dragon and Lion Dance Association
• Wesley Ukulele Band from San Jose’s Japantown
• Nikkei Choral Ensemble of UC Berkeley
• Singer Flora Hui
There will also be special appearances by the festival’s popular mascot, Cutie Tofutti.
The event will be emceed by NBC Bay Area Weekday Traffic Anchor Mike Inouye.
Admission is free.
Sponsors include Union Bank, Japantown Community Benefit District, Kikkoman, Morinaga and Bachan’s Japanese Barbecue Sauce. Media sponsors include NBC Bay Area, Crossings TV, J Weekly and Nichi Bei Weekly. The raffle sponsor is Japan Airlines.
In addition, Hodo Foods and Pietro will be donating products.
For more information, including an updated list of vendors and community sponsors, visit: www.soyandtofufest.org.