Toronto Natsu Matsuri 2014

Last year, we weren’t sure if the Japanese summer festival, would be held again, but it was. I was excited to see Sakuramai, taiko drumming and a fashion show again.

So it all started with a bang! The ishindaiko group kicked off the event with their wonderful drumming. I’m really loving how Japanese drummers don’t just make noise, as most people would associate drumming with, they perform. If I remember right, these drums are custom made from barrels. I don’t think this was the group from last years.The Raging Asian woman group were the ones to start it all off.

Ishindaiko also performed at the Obon Matsuri held at the JCCC. I make that statement because  I recognize the uniform, and one of the performers.

The perfect representation of the earth, with sound, would definitely be the  taiko drums.

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Then sakuramai returned this year to perform 6 dances. Although 3 of them were modified versions from last year, they still had the heat!  They were the one’s I’ve really been waiting for. Sadly, two women beside me were arguing so at first I was a bit distracted. Not to mention their voices were caught in my recording…

Anyways, back to Sakuramai. One thing that made their performance intereting was the fact that they never stopped at the end of one dance. It’s like they slowly transitioned from one dance to the other. The trade off to pull that off was to have fewer people on the stage at times. They certainly kept my attention because I was afraid that if I looked away, I would miss the transitioning.

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The fashion show was alright, but I loved last years display of yukatta’s from the Toronto’s kimono club better. This years fashion show was more fancier and bold, for lack of a better word. I’m no fan of fashion shows though. I guess I was more upset with the fact that I didn’t know what the connection the show had with Japan. I’m guessing that the designers were Japanese but it didn’t stand out like something unique to Japan. I liked the showcase of yukatta’s better because it reveal a bit more of Japanese culture. I don’t  think that the it was considered a fashion show though. Apparently, the 2014 fashion show was the first.

It was great though, some of the designs were wicked cool. It was also interesting to see how  busy it was getting the models ready back stage. I had access to backstage thanks to the Kurakake company.

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If you had a yukatta, lollita or cosplay look, you were sure to have become a celebrity for that day. People would stop anyone who was dressed up, asking if it was alright to have their picture taken.  These are very bold people, I wouldn’t have been able to dress up in anything to the matsuri.

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The best part was the interactive dance. I already knew what to do because I learnt the same moves during the JCCC’s  Matsuri. I find it to be more fun to join in and dance, than to watch. Something about making a fool of yourself in front of a crowd, while learning new moves along with others like you makes it worth while. In all honesty, once I joined, I even forgot about the people who were watching to the sides. I messed up a couple of times but still went on.

I know I compared this years matsuri a lot to last years, but I couldn’t help it. With last years matsuri in mind, I had a certain expectation for matsuri 2014. It was different, yes, but still fun. Although, I wish the Geisha/maiko tutorial was there this year. out of all the videos I posted last year, that one definitely got he most views. A lot of people were interested in seeing that.

If you were looking for Japan in Toronto, then the Matsuri is definitely something you would want to show up for.  There werew many Japanese food tents and other Japanese organizations like the Japan foundation, Japanese canadian cultural centre and The Japanese consullate. There were others selling Japanese toys, Shiatsu (massage )services and Japanese tv channel. Lots of interesting stuff to see and discover for those of us who can’t go to Japan yet. Why not grab a map of Kyoto and save it for that day you’ll finally be able to use it?

Next up: Matsuri 2015

Video recap, made by yours truly.

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