Banzai! Powell Street Festival This Weekend, August 4-5

Red leaf shiso mochi. Photo credit: Flickr user Rubber Slippers in Italy

Powell Street Festival, a celebration of Japanese Canadian culture, arts and heritage, is back for its 36th year,  August 4 -5, in East Van’s Oppenheimer Park. The 2012 theme is Big Banzai, an adaption of a battle cry and a heartfelt shout out to Vancouver’s Japanese Canadian community.

This year, Powell Street Festival takes place on the same day as the Celebration of Light finale, enabling revelers to spend the day watching Sumo demonstrations and gorging on Japanese food before the last night of fireworks, August 4.

This hotly-anticipated summer festival is a free, family-friendly event. Get the scoop on the show schedule, kids activities and food vendors after the jump.

For more info on August Long Weekend events in Vancouver, check out our handy list.


There’s a heady mix of demos and performances at Powell Street Fest from bonsai tree care and calligraphy to a full-on Sumo tournament. Martial arts buffs will relish the aikido, karate and iado (sword) demos. Don’t miss the Asahi tribute baseball game. Arts fans should take in at least one traditional or modern dance show.

There’s also plenty of opportunities to enjoy modern Japanese Canadian culture like stand up by Asian Canadian sketch comedy group Assaulted Fish.

Download the full schedule from the Powell Street Festival website.

Kids’ Tent

The kids tent is where the fun’s at. If you’re not packing family, you might want to ask a neighbour to borrow one of their mini people for the day. From 12-5pm Saturday and Sunday kids get to participate in games like Suika Wari – wherein they’re blindfolded and attempt to bash watermelons for prizes. There’s also origami for beginners, tug-of-war, face painting and a battle cry contest.

Food Vendors and Marketplace

The food at Powell Street Festival usually steals the scene. New food cart Mogu Foods will be there with their pulled chicken teriyaki sandwich, pork miso katsu sandwich, Asian poutine, and yuzu lime soda. Vancouver favourite Hapa Izakaya is doing grilled short ribs and squid. You can also expect Japanese waffles, macarons, udon, yaki-mochi, Spam nigiri, grilled corn, curry on rice, sushi, gyoza and more.

New this year, Powell Street Fest presents the Jackson Street Block Party where East Van vendors like Blim join traditional Japanese Canadian craft booths.

Powell Street Festival takes place from 11:30am to 7pm, Saturday, August 4 and Sunday, August 5 in Oppenheimer Park. 

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