Japan Festival 2003 hosts Nikkei Families at Opening Ceremony

At the 10th anniversary of the Japan Festival held at Hermann Park on April 5, the Festival Committee invited the descendents of the pioneer Japanese families as guests to attend the Opening Ceremonies. Daniel Watanabe, currently coordinating the “100 JT project” was the MC for the occasion. After introducing the special guest on stage, which included Consul General Mari Amano, Mayor Lee Brown, the Festival co-chairs Mr. Asakura and Mr. Matsuda, Watanabe then explained the 100th anniversary of the Japanese immigration into Texas, and introduced the following nikkeis: Judy Saibara Ferguson, Marjorie Saibara, Mrs. Lilly Kobayashi Landress, George and Darlene Hirasaki, Harry and Mari Okabayashi, Kathy Onishi Smith, Sut and Neva Oishi, and Mr. & Mrs. Wayne Ogden. The ceremony was preceded by the traditional taiko drum sounds, a chorus of Kolter Elementary School students (1-2nd grade) and their taiko ensemble (3-4th grades), all wearing blue happi coats. A special Kite Master, Mr. Seikoo Nakamura, from Nagasaki, Japan, was introduced, while Mrs. Nakamura held the reins of a string of 150 kites on a 1,000 feet-long line. Mr. Nakamura said “Kite flying is the symbol of peace. There is no boundary in the sky. One sky, one World. One train of kites in the sky represents the bridge of peace across the world!” On a perfect breezy spring day, thus opened the Japan Festival, which lasted to Sunday, with an estimated attendance of 5 to 10 thousand people. After the ceremony, the invited guests were escorted to the Tea House in the Japanese Garden, to partake in a tea ceremony with the Consul General and other VIP guests. [This marked the 2nd major event involving the celebration of the 100 JT project.]