Live Entertainment

The entertainment lineup for this event is truly impressive! Performances will run continuously throughout the day. A wide variety of talented performing arts groups will showcase Japanese dance, music and taiko drumming.

Okinawa Kenjin-Kai (OKK) Taiko Drumming Troupe

OKK Taiko practices a style of Taiko (drumming) called Eisa; a distinct form of Taiko originating from the island of Okinawa. Eisa Taiko draws is roots from traditional Okinawan dance, music, and Karate. Unlike the more well-known Japanese Taiko, Eisa Taiko is an acrobatic dance routine with energizing music.

OKK Taiko is a branch of Okinawa Kenjin Kai of Washington State which was founded over 35 years ago.  The non-profit organization is dedicated to preserving and promoting Okinawan culture including Eisa Taiko, Okinawan Classical music (Koten), Okinawan Folk music (Minyou), Traditional Dance (Buyou) and more.

A non-profit organization and comprised entirely of volunteers, OKK Taiko has over 40 members. To learn more, please visit


Mochi Pounding

“MOCHITSUKI” Traditional Japanese Mochi-Pounding Ceremony.
While eaten year-round, mochi is a traditional food served during Japanese New Year and is commonly sold and eaten during that time. Shoichi Sugiyama of Bellevue, a native of Japan, is a mochi-pounding expert who performs at community and corporate events throughout the Puget Sound region. Help Shoichi and his troupe keep the beat as they swing heavy kine (wooden mallets) used to pound the cooked rice inside a huge usu (traditonal stone mortar). Pounders keep a steady rhythm as another member of the troupe swiftly flips the dough by hand between each crash of the mallets. Pounding the glutenous rice creates the sticky dough used to make mochi. The chewy rice cakes are a traditional Japanese New Year treat. Audience members can sample a taste of mochi after each of the three performances scheduled throughout the day.

Our Mochi Ponder, Mr. Sugiyama, will serve up freshly-made Mochi (sticky rice cakes)  following his Mochi-Tsuki 

Mochi Soup (Traditional Japanese New Years Soup with one piece Mochi) — $4
“Mochi only” 2 piece in bag  — $3

Live Calligraphy Performance by Chiyo Sanada

Pacific Northwest artist Chiyo Sanada, originally from Hiroshima, Japan, began training in calligraphy at age seven. She earned her degree in Japanese calligraphy from Hiroshima Bunkyo Women’s University. Chiyo creates her art from her home studio in Olympia WA. Her work is featured in galleries and exhibitions through the Northwest. Chiyo teaches calligraphy, instructs workshops, and conducts live calligraphy performances at both public and private events. As she expresses herself with Kanji characters, her thoughts and emotions flow from hand to brush to paper. While many people in the U.S. cannot read kanji characters, most  seem to be able to sense the meaning she is trying to convey through her brush strokes, colors she uses, and other artistic choices.


River Ridge High School Taiko

River Ridge High School in Lacey has a strong Japanese language program and a diverse student population. Before starting their Taiko ensemble, interest was very high in the existing taiko drum that was built for a piece of concert music that the band performed in the 2007-2008 school year. One thing lead to another and they found themselves forming a taiko ensemble. Their vision is a 14-piece drum ensemble with various sizes and styles of drums. They build drums themselves to save money and to give the students some ownership. The group performs student-composed works at various local community events and concerts.


Yelm P.O.P.S. Choir

yelm POPSChoir Director Naoko Sokolik will lead the young students of Yelm’s P.O.P. Choir as they sing “Sakura, Sakura” accompanied by Joe Sokolik on cello.


St. Martin’s University Soran Bushi

“Soran Bushi” is based on a famous song traditionally sung by Japanese fishermen. This unique dance style dates back generations. The dance moves depict ocean waves, fishermen dragging nets, rowing and pulling ropes.



Kabuki Dance Academy

Kabuki Academy Performance Troupe: Classical Japanese Dance

Mary Mariko Ohno, director of KABUKI ACADEMY teaches Japanese classical dance, shamisen, and general concepts of Kabuki Arts at Tacoma Community College, Seattle Central Community College and in her Tacoma studio. The group will give a half-hour performance and will also staff our Kimono Photo Booth where visitors can get help from knowledgable “dressers” to try on real kimono and snap a picture for a keepsake!