By Carolyn Bick
Though she didn’t celebrate Bunka no Hi herself, when she lived in Japan, Arisa Nakamura now celebrates the modern holiday alongside the community and her fellow Japanese Cultural and Community Center staff and volunteers.
This year marked the organization’s 14th annual celebration of Bunka no Hi, which Nakamura said was originally a celebration of the Emperor Meiji’s birthday, changing in 1948 to commemorate the post-WWII Japanese constitution. While it’s still a national holiday in Japan, it’s now about celebrating and sharing Japanese culture and art, she said.
“Our program is for everyone who has no background of Japanese culture, or Japanese-American culture and history,” she said of the Nov. 3 celebration at the cultural center. “Everyone can learn something new. I love to see people enjoying Japanese culture and history.”
Throughout the day, visitors filtered through the many rooms of the cultural center, some trying their hands at origami and lucky cat-making, while others munched on Japanese curry with rice and mochi treats from a bake sale table. Outside, other attendees sipped on Japanese-brand drinks, as they watched members of The School of TAIKO perform in the sunny garden on the cultural center’s grounds.
But in and amongst the festivities was also a somber element. A room dedicated to the Japanese and Japanese-Americans interned at the Minidoka Internment Camp in Idaho, during WWII, invited attendees to read about the experience with a simple sign and an open door.
Brian Cullen, sister Jennifer Izutsu, and their mother Colleen McKay peered down at a small, black-and-white photograph, above a list of names.
“There he is. Block 21,” Cullen said, taking out his mobile phone to take a picture of the photograph. He, his mother, and his sister were looking at their then-infant father, who had been interned in Minidoka.
Their father stood away from the table, hands behind his back, face expressionless as he watched his family.
Featured image: A young person writes their name, during Bunka no Hi at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center in Seattle, Washington, on Nov. 3, 2019. (Photo: Carolyn Bick)