Santa Fe diversity – Japanese immersion for a day

This week’s guest post is from travel writer Elizabeth R. Rose. It is timely and we wanted to honor Japanese relief efforts and the Blog for Japan initiative.

Entering the fair, photo/Elizabeth R. Rose

The world is focused on the tragedy in Japan but for a day I was able to immerse myself in the beauty and culture of Japan and help those in need.

The Japanese Cultural Festival is an annual event put on by Santa Fe JIN, a non-profit organization promoting inter-cultural understanding and enjoyment of the Japanese culture. At this year’s festival, or matsuri, JIN had a more sobering mission… to help the Japanese in time of need and to continue on through the years to support rebuilding.

The Japanese Experience

The festival was held at the Santa Fe Convention Center, inside. Once I made my $2 donation, I entered the ballroom and felt the culture of Japan immediately. JIN members were in black shirts with calligraphy, booths were reminiscent of small Japanese

Calligraphy, photo/Elizabeth R. Rose

shopping stalls and the entertainment on stage ranged from music to calligraphy, to tea ceremonies.

As I walked by the booths, I saw people enjoying Asian massage, little girls gathered around baskets of the latest “cutesy” offerings from Japan, and food booths with authentic, neatly packaged lunches for attendees to enjoy with chopsticks.

I saw small, stooped elderly Japanese women enjoying a day surrounded by their own culture. I enjoyed the fact that almost every booth was raising funds for Japanese relief.

The festival drew famous names from Japan including master calligrapher, Choshu Yabe, who is known for her wall-sized calligraphy.

Native Americans Artists for Japan

Kimono, photo/Elizabeth R. Rose

The festival was attended by a diverse group of people. In fact, JIN is only half Japanese. Toward the end of the day three Native American artists were brought on stage to talk about their efforts to raise money for Japan Relief. Their eBay auction of hand-made Native American jewelry and art is scheduled to begin April 5th and continue throughout the month. More… Native American Artists for Japan.

An Annual Festival

It was not a somber environment. It was just the opposite; a spring festival that brought me back to my youth in San Francisco attending festivals and shopping in San Francisco’s Japan Town. This was a joyful time and an event I will look forward to next year as, hopefully, we watch Japan re-build and the trees in Santa Fe burst into blossom.

Elizabeth R. Rose is a travel writer who focuses on the Southwest. Her work can be found in the online Striped Pot Travel Magazine as well as other Internet and print publications. Follow her on Twitter.

Note: If you want other ways to donate to Japan, check out these options.

 

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