62nd “Ginza Holiday” Celebration Is Most Successful in Its History
“Ginza Holiday,” a three-day summer celebration of the Japanese food and culture, attracted a record number of visitors during its 62nd festivity from August 11 through 13 at the Midwest Buddhist Temple in Chicago.
“There is no doubt that we had what appears to be our most successful Ginza festival,” according to Albert Sora, Ginza Holiday Festival Chairman. “It’s a social gathering place for relatives and friends, many of whom don’t see each other often during the year.”
Ginza Holiday, organized with the aim of promoting the understanding of Japanese culture, features demonstrations of Japanese music, dance, traditional crafts and martial arts as well as a variety of Japanese food. One of the main attractions at the festival, the famous teriyaki chicken, was so popular that the organizers had to make an additional purchase of chicken during the last day of the festival.
Even the weather was cooperating. “We saw the earlier forecast of rain had improved, so we took a risk and increased our chicken purchase, hoping that a better weather will bring a large crowd,” Sora explained. It turned out as he hoped, and brought the record number of visitors, according to Sora.
In addition to the teriyaki chicken, the festival offered more mouth-watering food such as udon noodles, rolled sushi, grilled corn on a cob, spam rice balls, teriyaki veggie burgers, Hawaiian shaved ice, edamame, cold draft beer and sake. On the stage, performances of taiko drum, traditional Japanese dance, music, and martial arts entertained the audience. Vendors’ booths decorated with colorful lanterns attracted shoppers with Japanese antiques, kimono, potteries, ukiyo-e prints, scrolls, origami art, accessories and snacks.
One of the ukiyo-e vendors, Ron Valle, is from Chicago
and lived for three years in Yokohama and another three in Tokyo while
in his 20s. Since then, he has been collecting ukiyo-e prints while learning
about its art form.
Each year, Ginza Holiday offers a rare opportunity to watch traditional Japanese artisans (“Waza” masters) work, interact with them and purchase their works at affordable prices. This year, the festival invited from Japan Emika Iwashita of Tokyo-some fabric design, Masaaki Yamada of Edo-kiriko cut glass, Meisho Yamasaki of Ichimatsu dolls, and Eiji Kinoshita of traditional Japanese pottery.
Japanese Pottery by Eiji Kinoshita
Appearing at Ginza Holiday for the first time more than
30 years ago, Kinoshita has been a regular participant of Ginza for the
past 10 years. Many fans look forward to his appearance at Ginza each
year, and this year, most of his major works sold out on the first day.
When the Detroit Institute of Arts was in financial trouble and its collection was on the brink of being put up for sale, Japanese businesses assisted it in rebuilding itself as a private operation. A traveling exhibition of the museum’s collection was held in Japan last year. All these connections led to the opening of the Japan Gallery.
Kinoshita has been dreaming of exhibiting works of Japanese
artisans at a museum in the United States. He negotiated with the Art
Institute of Chicago but it didn’t work out. The opening of the Japan
Gallery in Detroit means a dream come true for him, Kinoshita said – the
museum already has a three-year budget plan in place for continuous exhibition
in the Japan Gallery. Some of the museum’s executives came to see the
Ginza Holiday festival and the participating artisans, Kinoshita said.
Tokyo-some Komon by Emika Iwashita
Iwashita, a fabric designer of Tokyo-some komon (the traditional art of dyeing kimono fabric with intricate, repeated patterns), made her first appearance at Ginza. She normally designs for kimono and obi, but she brought to Ginza accessories and small items which are more accessible to regular shoppers.
While Tokyo-some komon has both large- and small-pattern designs, the small patterns of “Edo-komon” were originated in the Edo period, used for a samurai’s formal kimono (“kamishimo”). The idea was that a different komon pattern for a different han (feudal domain) would make it easier to tell which samurai belonged to which han in the Edo Castle, where samurais gathered from all over Japan. Edo-komon then became popular among common people from the Meiji period onward.
Due to its requirement as a han uniform, Edo-komon used a technique of “mass production” – using a stencil to dye the fabric. It requires repeatedly placing the same stencil on a 13-meter-long fabric. According to Iwashita, it is the critical skill of a Tokyo-some craftsman to dye so that the pattern continues on the fabric seamlessly.
After having studied textile at an art college, Iwashita
began as an apprentice of stencil dyeing with her fascination of kimono.
Iwashita, a third generation kimono seller that deals with Kyo-Yuzen (silk
dyeing) fabrics, didn’t even know the difference between the hand-dyed
Kyo-Yuzen and stencil dyeing at the beginning, she said.
Edo-Kiriko Cut Glass by Masaaki Yamada
Yamada, the Edo-kiriko glass maker, also attended Ginza
for the first time.
Each pattern consists of a square unit, the combination
of which creates a variety of designs. The process is highly intensive
manual work so Yamada can finish only a few products a day if the design
is intricate. That makes the glass expensive, but he said his works at
Ginza were priced much lower than in Japan. To make a point, someone casually
bought a $160 glassware while he was being interviewed.
Yamada is a third-generation artisan of Edo-kiriko.
Although initially he didn’t intend to continue his family business, now
it’s been 23 years since he began learning the craft.
Famous teriyaki chicken in Ginza Holiday
Emika Iwashita, a fabric designer of Tokyo-some komon
Masaaki Yamada, the Edo-kiriko glass maker
Eiji Kinoshita, traditional Japanese pottery maker