2012 Aki Matsuri Festival

Photograph by Kristianto

From yukatas to tea ceremonies, continuing to puppet shows up until martial arts, there is nothing else more Japanese in the region than the Aki Matsuri Festival. Each year, the festival attracts thousands of people due to its authentic appeal. This year will be the 15th year Aki Matsuri is being held.  The festival will take place at the Bellevue College’s main campus on Saturday, September 8 and Sunday, September 9.

This year Aki Matsuri has come back to Bellevue College with bigger and better activities. This Japanese festival started off 15 years ago in the downtown Bellevue area and was called Japan Week. After several years, the festival moved to Factoria and after that it came to Bellevue College.

Aki and Matsuri are both Japanese words. They mean “autumn festival.” Each year, the festival is growing in location size and attendants. The Aki Matsuri is held as a part of celebrating Japan’s cultural tradition. The Eastside Nihon Matsuri Association (ENMA) organizes the Aki Matsuri Festival. Every year, many local artists and craft persons that practice Japanese-style arts participate in the event. The events vary from performing arts, puppet shows, fine arts, and crafts exhibition and many others.

Assistant director of Student Programs, Nora Lance said that the festival is the biggest cultural event that’s held on campus. Lance’s favorite part about the festival is seeing the many Japanese cultural items. “It’s pretty authentic; it’s all Japanese. It’s not Asian or anything like that,” said Lance.

Lance also mentioned that she liked to watch how people dress up to go to such festivals. Some festivalgoers wear Japanese yukatas. “It’s a fun family outing and everybody seems to have a good time,” Lance added.

Associated Student Government Associate Justice and Japanese international student Asami Bandai support sand promotes the idea of having a Japanese festival at Bellevue College. “I want to share my culture with the rest of Bellevue College students and I think it will be fun,” said Bandai. Bandai is also looking forward to volunteering at it to help make the event a success. Bandai explained that in Japan, there is no festival such as Aki Matsuri or the fall/autumn festival. There is, however, a summer festival which is often referred simply as Matsuri, or “festival” in English.

Bandai said that at Matsuri, there are a lot of people wearing yukatas. She also said that people usually go to the festival with friends, their dates or family members.

Last year, the festival had a successful kimono fashion show, taiko drumming demonstrations, as well as traditional dances. This year, the Aki Matsuri Festival has returned to Bellevue College and it will bring many exciting, educational, fun activities that would enrich our knowledge about the rich culture of Japan. Mr. Eikichi Yaegashi, a highly skilled blacksmith and chaser from Sendai, will be a featured guest for the festival. He will demonstrate how to make traditional metal hardware such as lock plates and steel handles to be fitted to a Sendai Tansu, a chest of drawers used for storage which has been made and used in the Sendai region.

For the festival itself, people of all ages are welcome to come. For people who want to get involved with the festival, they are able to volunteer to set up for the event or watch the tents that are going to be set up. To volunteer, students are able to register at www.enma.org or ask questions at akimatsuri.volunteer@gmail.com.