J-COLLABO held its summer festival at J-Labo Brookyln on July 11, 2015. The festival provided Japanese food, arts, entertainment and education that both Japanese and non-Japanese could enjoy. The festival was filled with variety events. In front of J-Labo, Japanese food vendors welcomed the audience and attracted the local community with delicious Japanese food. NY NOJO introduced Yakisoba (Japanese stir fried noodles), organic green smoothies and organic vegetables. KURYU served special Dorayaki (Japanese pancake with sweet red bean) using sweet potato, red bean and whipped cream. The line was never going to be shorter.
NY NOJO serving Yakisoba
many people came in YUKATA
KURYU serving special Dorayaki
Part 1: Festive-J
The festival was largely divided into three parts: Festive-J, Learn-J and Fan-J. Festive-J took a place at the basement. It was a Masturi (Japanese festival) themed game center to present Summer Matsuri. There were yo-yo balloon fishing, paper lantern workshop, hoopla, wood chopstick gun shooting and Yukata photo zone. Many local children came to play the games and wear Yukata. It was first time experiencing Japanese culture to many of them.
Part 2: Learn-J
Learn-J took a place at the 3 rd floor. There were three special lectures by Keishi Ikeuchi, the president of Ikeuchi Organic, Miori Inata, the photographer, and Timothy Sullivan, the president of UrbanSake. Keishi Ikeuchi’s passion to produce quality towels has led his company to create its own brand, IKT, which only uses organic cotton to produce towels produced in factories that are powered solely by wind energy.
The quality of cotton is slightly different every year depending on the climate and growing conditions. But, “Cotton Nouveau” is Ikeuchi’s original idea to enjoy unique cotton all year round, like wine. He decided to roll out his first line of “Cotton Nouveau” by using organic, Tanzanian cotton and made its debut in Japan in 2011.
Ikeuchi Organic is the first Japanese company to receive the Best New Product Award at the NY home textile show (currently called NY NOW) in 2002.
Miori Inata, is a renowned photographer based in Japan. After she worked as a fine arts teacher in Tokyo, she moved to New York City and lived there for 17 years. Her essential works include the photos taken at the Ise Grand Shrine, and she exhibits them internationally along with pictures taken at holy places all over the world.
“What I was impressed by the most at the Ise Grand Shrine was the belief that nature protects us, and we are part of it,” Inata said. She was surprised to learn from a Shinto priest of the Ise Grand Shrine, that light can’t exist without deep darkness, which is called “jouan” in Japanese.
Timothy Sullivan, With his first sip in 2005, Timothy Sullivan simply fell in love with premium Japanese sake. This inspired him to start the first sake blog in the United States: UrbanSake.com. His passion for sake has grown this site intoAmerica’s leading resource for sake related news, events and education. In 2007, the Japanese Sake Brewer’s Association awarded Sullivan the title of “Sake Samurai” in recognition of his work to promote sake outside of Japan. Currently, Timothy Sullivan works full time in the sake industry conducting sake seminars; educational tasting events and media outreach to introduce what the Japanese call ‘the drink of the gods’ to new fans in the U.S. and around the world.
Part 3: Fan-J
Lastly, Fan-J took a place at the basement. There were free beers sponsored by Kirin and wagashi (Japanese desert) made by Miyuki Hyodo. Standup Comedian, Hiroshi Shimizu greeted the audiences through the video and Shino Frances opened the stage with “10 minute cabaret” which boosted up the atmosphere. Then, Junko Sawa, the famous Rokyoku singer, impressed many non-Japanese audiences with a traditional performance. Following Sulphurbath Productions took the audience to the journey of a mysterious dream by performing “A Dream of the Sea”. Lastly, Yuzu, a singer-songwriter, presented her beautiful songs collaborating with Akim Funk Buddha.
10 minute Carabet by Shino Frances
Rokyoku by Junko Sawa
“A Dream of the Sea” by Sulphurbath Productions
Yuzu, a singer-songwriter
After all performances were finished, Mari Miyamoto’s fun Japanese workshop began. She introduced an entertaining way to speak basic Japanese by using numbers and name cards. The audience had an opportunity to communicate with each other in short Japanese greetings.
The summer festival successfully introduced Japanese culture to more than 200 people. According to the survey on the event day, most audiences were fully satisfied with the festival. Many people were interested in Japanese food and performing arts, and willing to see more Japanese musical performances.
Color Photo by Kimio Takeyama
Black & White Photo by Chris Vernale