Tanabata, Ondo, Gyoza: Happy Nisei Week

The Little Tokyo celebration will extend over several days.

By Alysia Gray Painter
|  Friday, Aug 9, 2013  |  Updated 10:10 AM PDT
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Tanabata, Ondo, Gyoza: Happy Nisei Week

Nisei Week

Little Tokyo celebrates Nisei Week, one of Southern California's most venerable festivals, from Aug. 10 through 18. Want to see the Tanabata Festival Opening Ceremony? That's on the evening of Aug. 9, near the Geffen MOCA/JANM.

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Southern California is home to many beautiful and meaningful cultural festivals, and here's the rather wonderful asterisk: A number of them have not only been around for over half a century, but a number of our most famous festivities last for several days and sometimes for well over a week.

One of the standard-bearers is Nisei Week Japanese Festival, Little Tokyo's long-running August celebration. Started in 1934, Nisei Week has both embraced traditions within the community while incorporating rather memorable contests -- gyoza-eating, anyone? -- in recent years.

It's set to dance again -- and dance it does -- from Saturday, Aug. 10 through Sunday, Aug. 18, with a Tanabata Festival Opening Ceremony on Friday, Aug. 9. Colorful pieces draping wind-fluttery strips are some of the most photographed sights of the festival; look for the tanabata near the Geffen MOCA and the Japanese-American National Museum from Friday night, Aug. 9 through Sunday, Aug. 11.

And, yes indeed, we did mention the gyoza-eating, so that tasty tidbit is worth pausing to explore. The Day-Lee Foods World Gyoza Eating Championship goes down at the Japanese-American Cultural & Community Center Plaza on Saturday, Aug. 17. Registration is closed but go cheer on the contest and purchase some "wild & crazy gyoza" for pre-contest snacking.

"Wild & crazy gyoza" includes pepperoni pizza potstickers and chicken & waffle potstickers. Seriously, now that you've learned there are pepperoni pizza potstickers in the world, are you able to have any other food thought? Yeah. We're with you on this.

But tanabata and gyoza are just two parts to the joyful and brimming gathering. The closing ceremony and Ondo dances on Sunday, Aug. 18 is always a much-anticipated Nisei event. 

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