Each year, the Powell Street Festival celebrates Japanese culture and Vancouver’s Japanese community. Back for its 41st year, the festival has some fan favourites along with some new acts and events. There’s plenty of opportunity for participation, including walking tours, an amateur sumo wrestling competition, and suika wara (where blindfolded contestants try to hit a watermelon). There are also film, music, theatre and literary events; and just about everything, outside of the food, is free.
Here are a few suggestions of what to check out at the Aug. 5 & 6 Powell Street Festival, which takes place in and near the 400 block of Powell, including Oppenheimer Park.
Katie Malia: Almost Asian (Sat. 1:30 p.m. – 2:00 p.m., Firehall Theatre)—Created by Japanese/German actor Katie Malia, Almost Asian is a new comedy web series that follows a woman’s everyday life in Los Angeles as a half-Asian. The screening features episodes from the series, which was recently featured on NPR. Malia will be in attendance for a moderated Q-and-A session following the screening. Malia will also perform a set of stand-up comedy at 4:45 p.m. Saturday on the Street Stage.
Translating Haruki Murakami (Sat. 2:30 p.m. — 3:15 p.m., Firehall Arts Centre)—Writer Haruki Murakami’s work has been translated into more than 50 languages, demonstrating a worldwide appeal unmatched by any other Japanese writer. Two translators of his work, Jay Rubin and Ted Goossen, discuss the challenges and discoveries of bringing Murakami to an English-speaking audience.
George and Noriko (Sat. 2 – 2:30 p.m., Diamond Stage and Sun 3 – 3:30 p.m., Street Stage)—With a combination of blues guitar and Tsugaru shamisen (both a style of music and an instrument), George and Noriko make bluegrass/hard country blues with a Japanese twist. The Melbourne duo have been featured on Australia’s Got Talent.
Katari Taiko (Sun. 6:15 – 6:45 p.m., Diamond Stage)—The first taiko drum group formed in Canada, Vancouver-based Katari Taiko has played throughout Canada and the U.S.
Sumo Tournament (Sun. 4 – 5 p.m., Demo Area)—Let the Vancouver Sumo Fun Club guide you on your way to becoming the Yokozuna (Grand Champion). Open to men and women, contestants try to force their opponent out of a circle: whoever gets forced out, even partially, loses. Pre-registration is required; sign-up begins Sunday near the water cart between 12 and 2 p.m.
For more info on the Powell Street Festival, visit powellstreetfestival.com.