Slack-key and Sushi
Being half asian and from Hawai’i, people often ask me if I moved to the Japantown neighborhood because it reminds me of home. The short answer is No. However, this weekend was the Nihonmachi Street Fair, and the billowing aroma of teriyaki BBQ and the strains of slack-key guitar coming from the plaza did flash me back to strolling down the streets of Honolulu. Only with less aloha attire.
The two-day festival hosted musicians and dance troupes representing cultures all around the Pacific Rim. The food vendors set up on Post Street offered tempting tempura and fresh poke, but it was the art stands that I went to see. Vibrant posters done in the traditional woodblock style and raku glazed pottery at one end of the Japan Center plaza, hand beaded evening purses and authentic Samurai swords at the other. I picked up a ginko leaf styled ceramic dish made by seniors at the Kimochi Center for only five dollars, and came this close to getting one of those purses.
If you missed the bargains from the fair vendors, there’s still plenty of reason to do some in-depth browsing through the mall and it’s surrounding shops: My friend Andy frequents the tiny restaurant On The Bridge for flashbacks to his days as a graduate student in Tokyo, Soko Hardware’s basement level is a neighborhood secret for finding unique kitchen tools at an absolute steal, and the Kinokuniya bookstore offers more Manga than you can shake a rolled-up comic book at – and yes, some of it IS in English.