Japan is a country that is rich in history and has made quite the presence within popular Western culture. Think ninjas, samurai warriors, cherry blossoms, sushi, anime – the list goes on. On April 2 you can experience many of the wonderful things Japan has to offer at the festival hosted by the Japanese Canadian Association of Yukon.

The festival, called Mura Matsuri, takes place at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre in Whitehorse.

This is the second Mura Matsuri to take place. The last one was held five years ago as a fundraiser for the tsunami relief.

The name Mura Matsuri translates as the Village Festival or Harvest Festival. This is an event held yearly in all parts of Japan. Mura Matsuri is a celebration of joy and happiness.

Fumi Torigai, who has been living in Whitehorse for 16 years, is a member of the Japanese Association of Yukon, and also one of the coordinators of the festival.

“This festival is for everyone, grownups, kids, grownups with a big kid in them- all are welcome to come an experience all the games and demonstrations,” he says.

For the artistically inclined, stations will be set up for origami and Japanese calligraphy (called Shodo), which uses a brush instead of a pen to create writing.

For the fashionistas, you will have the opportunity to try on traditional kimonos with the obi.

For the sports enthusiasts there will be demonstrations of two kinds of Japanese martial arts. The first is called aikido.

“This type of martial arts focusses on using the force of your opponent rather than aggression,” says Torigai.

The second type of martial arts is called Iaido, which is an aggressive form and uses real samurai swords. A special martial arts master will be conducting the demonstrations – and ensuring everyone’s safety.

For the small children there is a traditional Japanese game called Fukawarai. This game is a similar style to Pin the Tail on the Donkey, except more intricate. Children are blindfolded, and then they are given pieces in the shape of eyes, ears, mouth and a nose, and then they have to stick them on a piece of paper which has a large face. Of course adults are welcome to take a crack at this, too.

For those who have a keen interest in culture, a traditional Japanese tea ceremony demonstration will be featured. A tea master from Vancouver will be on hand showing this beautiful yet detailed tradition.

Now, if you happen to get hungry while partaking in all these cultural activities, there will be bento box lunches available for $10. The bento box will consist of sushi (California roll), and a dish called nimono, which is a type of stew consisting of meat and vegetables and is simmered very slowly.

The Mura Matsuri Japanese cultural festival takes place on April 2 at the Kwanlin Dun Cultural Centre in Whitehorse. Admission is by donation. Be sure to also look for the “Happy Festival Coat,” which will be worn by many of the children and adult volunteers.  

“This is  a special coat that was created specially for his festival, and made possible by funding from The National Association of Japanese Canadians,” says Torigai.