S.F. jazz club transforms into one-day Japanese cultural center

A DAY OF MUSIC AND ARTS — Calligraphy was among the arts presented Oct. 1 at Yoshi’s Jazz Club and Japanese Restaurant in San Francisco. photo by Noriko Shiota/Nichi Bei Weekly

A DAY OF MUSIC AND ARTS — Calligraphy was among the arts presented Oct. 1 at Yoshi’s Jazz Club and Japanese Restaurant in San Francisco. photo by Noriko Shiota/Nichi Bei Weekly

Yoshi’s Jazz Club and Japanese Restaurant opened its doors to the public on Oct. 1 to feature its fourth annual “The Flip Side of Yoshi’s,” a day of Japanese art and culture. Nearly 250 people packed the venue, located just outside of San Francisco’s Japantown, to experience the art and spirit of Japanese culture.
The hands-on activities, which included calligraphy, sumie (brush painting), tea ceremonies, chabana (tea flowers), koto (stringed musical instrument) and origami, took place in the morning.

“It’s like a bunkasai (annual Japanese cultural festival),” said Mark Frey.

Frey said his 3-year-old daughter, who is half Japanese, was experiencing chabana for the first time. He stressed the importance of teaching her Japanese culture, and said he was “grateful” that Yoshi’s organizes the event.

Participants also enjoyed the displays of ceramics and received an introduction to hyakunin isshu karuta (classical poetry card game).

For lunch, they dined upon a savory bento box lunch provided by Yoshi’s.

In the afternoon, the audience enjoyed authentic Japanese performance art, including a poetry reading, a koto ensemble, and noh dance as well as creative dance and singing.

Yoshie Wirks described the event as offering a “blend of traditional Japanese performance… Yoshi’s multicultural and original dance performance showed fusion of art and possibility of something new.”

Yoshie Akiba, a co-founder of Yoshi’s, said her spiritual interpretive dance is the highlight of the event.

“Every year, I dance a duet and a group dance, which are all my own creations,” she said.

She performed four numbers, which she also choreographed.

“I have been known as ‘Yoshi’s,’ which is about sushi and jazz. However, if I flip myself, I would be a Japanese art and spirit.”

Besides being an entrepreneur, Akiba also teaches Japanese tea ceremony and calligraphy.

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