【Throwback Thursday】Origin of Japan Fair
【Throwback Thur...

【Throwback Thursday】Origin of Japan Fair

What is Japan Fair? Have you been seeing our posts on this blog and on Facebook but still aren't sure what Japan Fair actually is? Well, this is the post for you!

Japan Fair is a free, two-day festival at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue, WA, that celebrates Japanese art and culture. It is a communal endeavor of musicians, artisans, community organizations, and businesses from both Japan and the U.S. who come together to share their products, talents, and knowledge of Japan. Through live performances on stage, hands on exhibits, cultural workshops, and vendor booths, the public is immersed in the music, dance, artisanry, and philosophy of Japan.

Japan Fair formed in 2016 as a continuation of the legacy of the “Aki Matsuri”, an annual festival in Bellevue that was presented by the non-profit organization Eastside Nihon Matsuri Association (ENMA). The Aki Matsuri was a two-day program that celebrated Japan’s rich cultural heritage, and featured cultural, educational, and fun events for all age groups. It was held each Fall season for 18 years and was greatly appreciated by the community. In 2016 ENMA retired as a non-profit, and the Aki Matsuri began its transition into a new, sustainable community event. This event, headed by a new volunteer team with the goal of carrying on the annual festival tradition, was called Japan Fair.

The first Japan Fair was held at Meydenbauer Center on September 3 – 4, 2016, under the guidance and help of ENMA as the official successor to the Aki Matsuri. 15,000 people were estimated by Meydenbauer Center to have attended the launch of Japan Fair. Many were returning attendees of the Aki Matsuri, although the festival drew many new, first-time attendees as well, along with a number of new exhibitors from both America and Japan who shared their projects and products with the people of the Pacific Northwest.

Under the mantle of "Introducing and spreading the traditional and modern culture of Japan", Japan Fair 2016 successfully carried on the 18 year legacy of the Aki Matsuri. The local community, made up of both Japanese and American individuals, corporations, and organizations, came together to welcome 20,000 visitors to the event.
From 2017 on, Japan Fair will be held yearly during Tanabata, an annual time that celebrates the spirit of coming together and the connectedness of community. With this in mind, our aim for Japan Fair 2017 is to grow our outreach and expand our visitor demographics to include more of the wider American community.