by Bruce Rutledge, The North American Post
The third Japan Fair saw record crowds on July 7-8. Official statistics weren’t available at the time of printing, but estimates put the crowd on July 7 at around 25,000 at the Meydenbauer Center in Bellevue. Visitors enjoyed food, music, dance and an eclectic assortment of cultural seminars and workshops.
Japan Fair is a nonprofit organization. It raises enough money each year to put on the two-day extravaganza and offer free parking for both days. That, of course, takes a lot of fundraising, and the fundraising for the fourth Japan Fair started on the evening of July 7 with the Friends of Japan Gala held at the Meydenbauer Center.
The dinner started dramatically, with members of ECG, Echo Chorus, Sound Singers and Chorus of Hope performing a dramatic rendition of Brindisi from La Traviata. The fundraiser dinner was as eclectic as the fair itself, with a stunning violin performance by 17-year-old Takumi Taguchi, a beautiful song written by 11-year-old Kaia Rubin for the #metoo movement and sung by Kaia, her older sister Makena and neighbor Sophie Ma, and even a playful roomwide round of rock-paper-scissors where the winner had to beat Tomio Moriguchi, the North American Post publisher, head-to-head to win a rare bottle of French pear juice made in Japan.
The gala raised a lot of money and built a strong sense of community, highlighted by the room of diners serenading Lori Matsukawa and Noriko Palmer with a rendition of “Happy Birthday to You.” If you’re interested in helping Yuka Shimizu and the rest of her team at Japan Fair build community and raise money, please visit japanfairus.org.