Well, the 12th National Nikkei/Japanese-Mexican Convention is coming to a close. Events included the election of “Miss Nikkei,” a dozen or so incredible conferences, an early morning dance on the beach combining traditional Japanese buyo and Aztec dancing—to symbolize the Mexican-Japanese mix. We had kimono, happi and hakama, t-shirts with the Mazatlán deer sketched in kanji characters, origami paper folding and shoudo calligraphy, and a terrific, quite large ikebana/flower arranging display. Kudos to the unbelievable Esperanza Kasuga and all the convention organizers, staff, and volunteers!!!! お疲れさまです！！！！Over 400 people registered for the full convention, and thousands of people attended the events this week, commemorating 400 years of Mexico-Japan relations.
It was wonderful to meet so many people who were so thrilled to meet others with whom they share so much in common, and great to learn more of the history of Japanese people in Sinaloa and in Mexico. I met Mrs. Nakamichi, for example, who was joyfully proud to tell me about her grandfather (speaking in the video below, in front of a photo of her grandfather):
I was especially psyched to learn that kamaboko, traditional Japanese fish cake, is made right here in Mazatlán! How could I have lived here six years and not known that?! I am told I can buy it at Ricamar, which is on the right side as you head to the airport, just past Café Marino. Yippeee!!!
I loved the simple graphic below, outlining the first voyage of Japanese people to Mexico, then to Europe, and back again. Hasekura sure had perseverance and an adventurous spirit, as did Japan’s first immigrants to Mexico.
I was privileged to meet Hirofumi Nakasone, the Japanese Senator from Gumma Prefecture and former Minister of Foreign Affairs as well as Minister of Education (I met his father, the Prime Minister, years ago and immediately noted the family resemblance), along with Shuichiro Megata, Japanese Ambassador to Mexico, in Casa Haas at the opening of the historical photo exhibit on Friday.
My friend Joaquin Hernández showed us a few volumes from his astounding book collection, and I absolutely fell in love with this wood block print of Mazatlán. We are blessed with so many incredible intellectuals and all-around terrific people here, I am consistently amazed.
The photo exhibit at Casa Haas will be open for two or three more weeks, I am told, so do not miss it. In the rear room is a film made by a Japanese-Mexican woman from El Rosario, Sachiko Uzeta Amano, entitled, Del Otro Lado del Mar. The film was made in 1997 to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the arrival of Japan’s first immigrants to Mexico, and discusses their descendants cultural integration into Mexico and preservation of their Japanese heritage. I’ll have to go back in order to watch the whole thing. Seeing traditional Japanese festival accoutrements alongside the Virgen de Guadalupe sort of blew my mind!
Below is a highlight reel of Friday night’s Nikkei Convention concert in the Angela Peralta Theater, with interview from baritone Adán Pérez.