“Arts Gumbo” Serves Up Japanese Culture

by Staff Writer

Arts GumboSouth Seattle –  This Saturday, September 13th, residents of South Seattle will be be able to experience the majestic culture of Japan first hand without stepping one foot outside the southern boundaries of the 206.

SEEDArts, the arts and cultural division of South East Effective Development, is presenting the second installment of their Arts Gumbo series, this one featuring music, dancing and food from Japanese Culture.

The event will take place at the Rainier Valley Cultural Center and will kick off at 6pm with the performance group Mako & Munjuru, who will be showcasing  the music and dance of Okinawa and Japan. Using the Okinawan lute, zither, taiko drums and voice, they will combine elegant melodies, folk tales and sophisticated classic tunes to present traditional “island songs”.

Munjuru (which means straw hat) is comprised of three musicians: Mako on vocals & sanshin; Sadayo on kutu; Noriko on taiko; and two dancers Takako and Hitomi.

After the performance, the audience will be treated to a traditional Japanese dinner cooked earlier in the day by Community Kitchens Northwest and local volunteers.

After dining, audience members can participate in a Bon dance workshop. Bon Odori are folk dances traditionally performed during Obon, a Japanese summer festival, to music that includes the steady beat of a taiko. The taiko sits on a raised platform, or a yagura, and musicians use bachi, or drumsticks, on the taiko, to keep time for the Bon dancers. The guiding purpose of Bon Odori is to set aside the ego through unselfconscious dancing.

“With this area being such a diverse place, we feel the the Arts Gumbo series is a wonderful opportunity for the community to engage with, and learn directly from, the various cultures that populate the South Seattle area.” Said Jerri Plumridge, SEEDArts Director.

Tickets for Arts Gumbo 2014 can be purchased for $15 general; $10 seniors and students; $5 for children 5-12; at the door or at www.brownpapertickets.com  For updated event times and dates, please call 206.760.4285. For more information you can visit http://www.rainiervalleyculturalcenter.org/artsgumbo/