Tea ceremony is presented to a rapt audience at JACCC. (ANNAKAI HAYAKAWA GESHLIDER/Rafu Shimpo)

By ANNAKAI HAYAKAWA GESHLIDER, Rafu Shimpo

In addition to Sunday’s parade, Nisei Week brought several cultural exhibits to Little Tokyo.

On Saturday and Sunday, the second floor of the Japanese American Cultural & Community Center hosted exhibits of Japanese dolls from Yukari-Kai and ceramics from the California Japanese Ceramic Arts Guild. Downstairs, an ikebana exhibit from the Southern California Ikebana Teachers Association drew crowds to behold a dazzling array of flower arrangements.

“It’s really interesting, and beautiful,” said Chester Leung of Rowland Heights, who spent time observing the ikebana inside JACCC’s first-floor gallery. New to ikebana, Leung came to Little Tokyo for Nisei Week and heard about the exhibit. “The way they make the flowers, it’s not like you would expect.” A first-timer at Nisei Week, Leung was also looking forward to the rest of the festivities.

A lovely arrangement by Shofu Hisako Shohara of the Ohara School of Ikebana was on display at JACCC. (RONA MINAMI/Rafu Shimpo)

Next door, the Omotesenke Tea School led tea ceremonies throughout the afternoon. At 3 p.m. on Sunday, around 35 people observed the ceremony, learning the history and meanings behind it. Participants then got to try a taste of tea.

The weekend’s festivities brought many people to JACCC, said Julie Zhu, the center’s Mellon Curatorial Fellow. “I’m very happy they are coming back — especially because Nisei Week has been stopped for two years because of the pandemic.”

Zhu curated the JACCC’s exhibits, as well as did graphic design for the event spanning two weekends. She is a painter, and a member of the JACCC’s project team working to translate and create a digital archive of Issei poetry.

Next weekend, the JACCC will host exhibits of bonsai and Japanese calligraphy, as well as Japanese dolls by Hirofumi-Kai.

On First Street at Koyasan Buddhist Temple, volunteers set up a booth to sell omamori to parade visitors. Omamori are amulets commonly sold at temples and shrines, and are used for protection and good luck in a variety of settings. One volunteer said people usually associate omamori with New Year’s, but you can get them any time.

After a two-year hiatus, Koyasan Vice President Brandon Paris was happy to see folks coming out for Nisei Week. “It still is smaller, but I’m glad that it’s picking up again,” he said. “I just hope that it starts to bring more people together.”

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