The OCO BBQ Crew carries a sumo-themed mikoshi during the parade at the OCO Club’s Natsu Matsuri at Tanaka Farms in Irvine on Aug. 27.

By LILY KOZAI and JULIA WONG

OCO Club held its first Natsu Matsuri Festival at Tanaka Farms in Irvine on Aug. 27. 

Over 1,000 people, young and old, attended and enjoyed the festivities, which included various entertainment, a boutique, food, drinks, a mikoshi parade, and more.

Entertainment was provided by collegiate taiko groups — UCLA’s Kyodo Taiko, UC Riverside’s Senryu Taiko, CSU Northridge’s Jishin Taiko and Cal Poly Pomona’s Touzan Taiko — and Orange County Buddhist Church’s Daion Taiko, Emily Imazumi Koto Studio, Teramura Ki (Japanese classical dance), Ikenobo Ikebana-L.A. Chapter, Way of Omotesenke (tea ceremony), Fumio Demura Sensei (karate) and Sayuri Nishi and Rayko of Lolita Dark (enka singing). 

Kids also got to carry their own mikoshi.

There was also a craft and boutique area that had 12 vendors selling a wide range of unique items.

The beer garden had a variety of drinks from Sapporo Beer and cocktails made from shochu from Nankai Shochu that used melons from Tanaka Farms.

Food was provided by Tanaka Farms, the OCO BBQ Crew and Shin-Sen-Gumi.

Kenny and Glenn Tanaka of Tanaka Farms are joined by the Nisei Week Court (from left): Faith Nakamura, Maile Yanguas, Kristine Yada, Audrey Nakaoka, Lorie Meza and Amanda Hiraishi.

The highlight of the event was the mikoshi parade and ondo led by Shirley and Marci Asao. Everyone came together and various community organizations decorated their own mikoshi (portable shrines) for the parade. Included in the mikoshi parade were the OCO BBQ Crew, OCO Club board, OCO junior and youth club, OCBC board members and church members, and Nova Vita Foundation.

More than 1,000 people attended the first OCO Natsu Matsuri.

One of the favorite mikoshi in the parade was made by OCO Tinkos (kindergarten and first-grade children). They decorated a smaller version of the larger mikoshi, dressed in their OCO jerseys with light-up necklaces, and marched in the parade cheering, “One, two, three, four…”

2022 Nisei Week Queen Kristine Yada and her court were also at the festival, dancing in the mikoshi parade and ondo.

A huge “arigato” to Tanaka Farms for hosting the event and Clay Sakurao, who spearheaded the building of the mikoshi.

It was a great way to gather the community together and to catch up and enjoy what was missed during the COVID years. We hope to continue this Japanese American tradition for years to come.

Members of the OCO mikoshi team get ready for the parade.

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