Yesterday I had the honor and the FUN of marching in the 68th annual Nisei Parade in Little Tokyo, Los Angeles. I marched with my dear friends from NCRR (Nikkei Civil Rights and Redress who successfully won reparations from our government to all those of Japanese decent who were interred in concentration camps in WWII)
We first assembled at Centenary Methodist Church at 3:30 to prepare for the parade to begin.
As it turned out, NCRR was marching almost at the end of the parade so we had to wait til six to begin marching, but that was actually fine because we could get to the corner where the participants merged in to start marching to see them as they began. We had munched on beautiful trays of fruits and drank cool lemonade at Centenary which refreshed us before marching.
The sidewalks of Little Tokyo were lined with people who cheered and clapped giving peace signs as we marched by with Kathy, Richard and Lillian riding in a convertable in front of us. Parade rules stated no political banners so we weren't able to carry our banner for Ehren Watada but he was right there with us in all our thoughts. (NCRR handles his core campaign for the LA area), NCRR had some other really nice banners made which NCRR members carried, colorful and tall stating what NCRR stands for, REDRESS, PEACE and JUSTICE. There were about 20-25 of us who marched, waving and giving peace signs back to the onlookers.
It was so much fun! There were some floats carrying the "courts" this year's and last's as well as other's carrying taiko drummers. A traditional Japanese sailboat carried the band Hiroshima (remember THIS song?). There were dancers who danced the route in beautiful traditional costumes. Banning High School sent their marching band and drill team (who gave us all inspiration to walk in straight rows!) as well as the Long Beach Junior Concert Band(picture above-of their-what would you call it?)-sign on wheels-which the band has been pushing in parades for 40 years!)
At the end of the parade we all went back to Centenary Church for a meal they had prepared for all the "dignitary" participants who were gathered there. Noodles, tempura, sushi, traditional desserts as well as mochi ice cream, YUM!) Mike Murase made some fantastic tee-shirts for Obama, black with Obama written in Japanese lettering, then "change" below, YES we all need some change).
This whole week Little Tokyo is hosting the Nisei week festival. Check out their website to see all the educational and fun things to do!
Blogdowntown has an article with some beautiful pictures too!
Little Tokyo's Nisei Week Marches On
DOWNTOWN LOS ANGELES — Even with without a Tofu Festival being held this year, and no Nebuta float, the annual Nisei Week went forward as it has for 68 years. Saturday's events included a relocated car show held where the Nikkei Center––better known as the Mangrove site––is slated to be built at First and Alameda.
Late Sunday afternoon, the Grand Parade had traditional dancers, floats, bands and civic dignitaries marched on Second street (from Central) to Los Angeles St, then turning on to First before circling back on to Central. The Nisei Week Japanese Festival continues this week, ending Sunday, August 24, with the Ondo Community Dance Celebration and Closing Ceremony at 4pm.
At the end of the parade route, these drummers screamed in unison to mark the end of their trip around Little Tokyo.