Sunday, August 4, 2013

Snaps from the 2013 Powell Street Festival

It's been a busy couple of weekends in Vancouver this year. The annual fireworks festival has been on for the past week an a half, overlapping the Wand Erection (ops, did I type that?) One Direction and Jay Z/Justin Timberlake concerts that have book-ended this these past two weeks. Needless to say, downtown has been a pretty busy place, and this is on top of the normal tourist traffic, and not counting the gigantic block party that was the Khatsahlano festival.

Just outside of  the downtown that the city would like to portray to the world is the "other" downtown: the east-side, notoriously known as "Canada's poorest postal code." Though it is undoubtedly poverty-stricken as we know it now, it's still a proud place with a long history. One of the most vibrant weekends of the year happens here, not just in the DES but pretty much in the whole city, and that's the Powell Street Festival.

"The Society tries to accomplish these goals by presenting the Powell Street Festival every year. The Festival, which began in 1977, is a unique street festival that is free to the public and is held on Powell Street in Vancouver, Canada, (an area where the first Japanese in Canada settled). Through the Festival, we provide a venue for Japanese Canadians to perform, display their work and gain publicity. They, in turn, inspire others to continue their pursuits and participate in the Festival. By providing an opportunity for groups and individuals to participate in various ways, we foster community development. The Festival also allows the Japanese Canadian community to show the general public the diversity that exists within our community and to share it with them."
- Powell Street Festival Society

For two days in a year (three if there is a baseball game), the local neighbourhood greenspace that is Oppenheimer park becomes the center of the Japanese world world, at least in Vancouver. If you are visiting the city in late July/early August, I highly recommend spending an afternoon here. Come hungry and line up early, as the popular stands often run short /run out, especially the okonomiyaki stand. Also, the arts and crafts are some of the most unique and compelling that you can find in the city, especially the hand-made greeting cars which come in traditional Japanese themes.

Ps: If you are wondering about the odd splashes of rainbow in some of the following pictures; it was because the Pride festival was on the same day.... more orientation-agnostic than it sounds and practically Vancouver's version of St. Paddy's Day or Cinqo de Mayo.

All pictures shot aimlessly with a Panasonic DMC-LX5.

Keywords: Japan, Japanese culture, festival, Japanese crafts, okonomiyaki, takoyaki, ramen noodles, yukata, shaved ice, taiko drums, Vancouver, multicultrualism

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