Consul General Okada’s Web Message for September 2013
You are probably sensing the arrival of fall as the beautiful summer has come to an end in Vancouver.
How did you enjoy the summer season?
I traveled to the Canadian Rockies for a summer holiday. It was my third trip to the Rockies; the first visit was made when I was studying in Ottawa and the second one was also when I was in the capital city working at the Embassy of Japan. During my recent trip, the vastness of the Rockies afforded a number of enjoyable experiences including kayaking, rafting, trekking and relaxing in hot springs at places that I had never visited before.
In Vancouver, the Powell Street Festival was held and I participated for the first time. I saw the festival drawing a multitude of people who were having a good time and was impressed by its firm establishment in the community. This annual festival takes place in the neighbourhood along Powell Street, the cradle of Japanese settlement in Canada. While attending the festival programs, I ruminated about the history of Japanese Canadians. My day at the festival also included parading with Mikoshi, a portable Shinto shrine with two horizontal poles for people to carry it on their shoulders. I discovered the inimitable joy of Mikoshi-bearing at the festival, although bearing it was more difficult than expected, leaving a bruise on my shoulder. I am looking forward to the next year’s Mikoshi parade.
As well, the Nikkei Matsuri took place at Nikkei Place in Burnaby. It was a wonderful festival, reminiscent of Japanese summer festivals, with various venders and performances including the summer folk dance, Bon-Odori. Attending the festival, which appealed to family members of all ages, I keenly felt people’s wishes to hand down their Japanese heritage to another generation and to share Japanese culture with all people in Canadian society. While it was the festival’s inaugural year, I saw a great number of people enjoying the occasion; I strongly hope that the festival will grow into a celebrated event in the community for years to come.
Coinciding with the Nikkei Matsuri, our Consulate invited Katsura Sunshine from Japan to present Rakugo, traditional Japanese comic storytelling, in English. It was my first time to listen to English Rakugo and I found it invigorating that the comical essence of Japanese Rakugo was successfully delivered even in the English Language.
As well in August, the new Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme participants left for Japan. Since its start in 1987, over 7000 Canadians have gone to Japan on the JET Programme either as assistant English teachers in schools or as coordinators for international relations in local government offices. Back then, I was posted to the Embassy of Japan in Ottawa as Secretary and was assigned to work on this “new” programme. Over a quarter century has passed since its inception. It has been showing great results and is still growing. I am immensely gratified with the success of the programme.
September 13, 2013