The Nikkei Matsuri is a two-day Japanese festival held in Burnaby at the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre on the first weekend in September.
In 2019 the Nikkei Matsuri will likely take place on August 31st and September 1st (but exact details are to be confirmed).
At the event there are tea ceremonies, numerous performances, a marketplace, food vendors and a variety of family-friendly activities. In years with good weather over 13,000 people attend over the course of the weekend.
When is the Nikkei Matsuri?
The Nikkei Matsuri takes place on the last Saturday and Sunday of the summer, just before kids return to school, so on the Labour Day weekend. It usually starts at 11 am on both days and runs until 7 pm. In 2019 the Saturday and Sunday of the holiday weekend are August 31st and September 1st.
Where is the Nikkei Matsuri?
Parking & Transportation
Limited parking is available at the Nikkei Centre’s underground parkade for $10 per day and can be reserved in advance through the Nikkei Matsuri website, although some years those spaces sell out well before the event day. Limited day parking is also available on site on event day.
Guests are encouraged to take public transit and a free festival shuttle is available most years between the Nikkei Centre and nearby Edmonds SkyTrain Station with departures every thirty minutes between about 11 am and 7 pm.
Admission to limited festival activities outdoors in the Garden at the Nikkei Centre is free. Admission to indoor activities, however, which includes a marketplace, workshops, Game Zone and main stage performance, costs about $3 per person and $10 for a family of four. Children ages 4 and under are free.
Nikkei Matsuri Activities
The Nikkei Matsuri is a Japanese community festival featuring a wide range of activities including live performances and a Game Zone, as well as a small marketplace, a Japanese used book sale and opportunities to try on a yukata (which is a type of summer kimono).
Entertainment at the Nikkei Matsuri includes performances by various local singing and dance groups, Taiko drummers and other performers. Some performances are indoors and some are outside in the garden.
Matsuri Game Zone
Popular with children at the Nikkei Matsuri is the Game Zone which includes a variety of simple midway-type games where you buy tokens to play and have the chance to win prizes. Game Zone activities most years include a ring toss, balloon darts, bean bag toss and other games that young kids enjoy.
2018 Festival Performers
Highlights of the 2018 Nikkei Matsuri included the following activities and performances:
On the Saturday and Sunday
- Bon-odori Dance – a traditional Japanese dance that everyone is invited to participate in. It takes place outdoors in the garden.
- Indonesian Dance – a 3-person dance group performs Tari Merak (peacock dance), Tari Piring (plate dance) and Tari Sekar jagat (traditional Indonesian dancing).
On the Saturday (September 1, 2018)
- Seishun Youth Academy – the group of young girls entertains with original songs in both Japanese and English.
- Sakura Singers – a Japanese choral group.
- Sansho Daiko – a Japanese taiko drumming group.
- Koto Ensemble – a group of musicians who play traditional Japanese string instruments.
- Rakuichi – a music and dance group that entertains with omikoshi demonstrations (i.e., the carrying of a portable Shinto shrine) and Shishi Mai (lion dancing).
- Robson 800 – a Vancouver-based international dance group.
- Matsuri Star Talent Search – a talent competition featuring 20 contestants and a grand prize of $500. The semi-finals take place indoors from 5 until 7 pm in the Special Events Hall.
On the Sunday (September 2, 2018)
- Chibi Taiko – a children’s Japanese taiko drumming group.
- Tenrikyo Joyous Stars – a children’s Japanese dance group.
- Wailele Wai Wai – the Japanese hula dance group performs both Hawaiian Hula Kahiro (classical hula dancing) and Auana (modern hula dancing).
- Vancouver Okinawa Taiko – a local Japanese taiko drumming group.
- Koto Meets Violin: Pico & Gavia – Pico is a Vancouver-based Japanese singer who plays the Koto (a traditional Japanese string instrument). Gavia is a jazz and folk violinist. Together they play a fusion of Western and Eastern music.
- Yumeko Dance Company – a Hip-Hop, Reggae, House and African-style Japanese dancer.
- Matsuri Star Talent Search – a talent competition featuring 20 contestants and a grand prize of $500. The finals take place indoors from 5 until 7 pm in the Special Events Hall.