Haiku to Japadog

16 April 2018 – Sunshine & relative warmth in a soggy week, perfect for our visit to Sakura (“flowering cherry tree”) Days at the VanDusen Botanical Garden. This two-day event is the annual contribution of an astounding all-volunteer committee to the larger Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival that takes place month-long throughout the city.

We’re on for all of it, high culture to low.

We start high, following a trail of posted haiku — all cherry-blossom pink, of course — to the haiku tent.

The poems are all part of an international, invitational project. That one from the USA; another, for example, from Russia.

And another, pointed political commentary, from right here in Canada.

We take part in a haiku workshop in the tent, learn something of their key characteristics as well as variations on the form, read and discuss examples culled from The Haiku Anthology (ed. Cor van den Heuvel, W.W. Norton, 1999).

A haiku walk follows the workshop but we peel off, decide to take in — literally — another mainstay of local Japanese culture.

The Japadog!

Stop snickering. The Japadog is as much a cultural phenomenon as haiku, invented right here in Vancouver by a young immigrant couple in 2005, now a truck/trailer/cart mainstay of our cityscape, and boasting two outposts in California (LA and Santa Monica).

We choose the Terimayo – a best-seller featuring kurobuta pork, fried onions, teriyaki sauce, mayo & seaweed. Yum. (Washed down later with lattes, because the matcha tea line-up is just too long.)

We take our happy tummies up the hill to join others enjoying a bird’s-eye view of succeeding acts on the Cherry Stage below.

We arrive in time for almost the entire presentation by Kohei Honda and Keita Kanazashi, brought in from Japan to perform on the 3-stringed Shamisen and the Japanese drum respectively.

Many in the audience are in traditional Japanese dress …

others, from other cultures, express their own sense of cultural identity.

Then there’s the rest of us!

Later we scamper downhill, crowd in close to the stage, want to take in every moment of the closing act, the Vancouver Okinawa Taiko ensemble. Formed in 2004 by Masami Hanashiro, they serve as local ambassadors of an Okinawa grassroots folk art — a distinctive marriage of drumming and dancing, performed to both traditional and contemporary Okinawa music.

We watch to the end, entranced.

Then we walk toward the exits, passing the Cherry Grove. It is the perfect backdrop for visitors in traditional garb, striking a traditional pose beneath the many trees and their great drifts of blossoms.

At home, I write my first haiku.

Of course I’m not going to show it to you. Don’t be silly.

 

 

 

 

 

  • WALKING… & SEEING

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