August 13, 2006. My good friends from the OC, Jarod and Charli, invited me to come with them to Nissei Week in Little Tokyo. I have not attended Nissei Week since 2003 when AG Mixer was part of the main events. Yes, Little Tokyo Anime Fest (Project 760) was being run at the Mitsuwa, I wanted to see Nissei week in full force. In addition, two of our friends had August birthdays to celebrate. We arrived in Little Tokyo around 1PM. Jarod parked his car close to Tent City. Charli, an Oklahoma gal, was feeling very tense since she didn't know what to expect from homeless people. Jarod reassured our safety.
For the most part, we walked around Little Tokyo, went into some of the stores and exhibits, etc. We went by the Japanese American Cultural Center for origami, kimono, and sword exhibitions. In addition, we did make it in time for the parade. I took many pictures of who was being recognized and honored. I waved over to Visual Communications and told them Center for Asian American Media (I was working for them at the time) says, "Hi!"
Towards the tail end of the parade, out of nowhere, all these Bleach cosplayers came up to Jarod, Charli, and I and gave us hugs once they saw us in the crowd. It turned out to be our friends from Brilliant Moon Cosplay. We agreed to meet up after the parade. Once the parade was over, we all met at the Japanese American Nation Museum for cosplay photo ops.
Jarod and Charli had to leave right away. Yet, I managed to find a ride back to Torrance with Stan. By this time, I changed into my kimono. I had the help of Angelica to put it on correctly. I bought the kimono in San Francisco for less than $50, obi included. Two of our friends, Tiffany and Justin, had August birthdays. The plan was to have dinner and karaoke at Oiwake. After many catching up to do, we headed over to the restaurant.
This was my second time dining at Oiwake. Not only many of us were Japanese pop culture freaks, but musical theatre geeks. Some people sing "Happy Birthday" at birthday parties, but we sang "La Vie Boheme" from Rent. Funny, because I saw Rent in San Francisco days before Nissei Week. The madness continued after dinner. Karaoke time. I forgot song what Tiffany did, I think it was "The Greatest Love of All." I went up to do my usual "Mack the Knife." Fer did "Don't Cry for Me Argentina." It was such a classic because the video that accompanied the song had nothing to do with Evita. Let's say there was mucho sex and ice cream. As a birthday present for Justin, we did the title song from Phantom of the Opera. My voice wasn't ready for the high notes towards the end, but I borrowed Angelica's sword and smacked him with it.
It was already time to be going home. Luckily, I lived half an hour away. Others had long ways to go. It was one fine evening spent with my best friends in Southern California (and celebrating many years of Japanese American contributions, ergo I highly recommend seeing the film, Hito Hata: Raise the Banner.)
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