Aki Matsuri (CJC Autumn Festival) – The Event That Brings Canberra’s Japanese Community Together / A Tour of Canberra’s Events #5 

People gathered on stage for the Awa odori (dance)

 Hello! My name is Joy and I am an Intern at Nichigo Press. The 5th Canberra event I would like to introduce is the ‘CJC Autumn Festival’ that took place on 28th of May at the Cook Community Hall. 

What is the ‘CJC Autumn Festival?’

Canberra Japan Club banner

 The CJC Autumn Festival is an event run by the Canberra Japan Club (CJC) that offers a taste of the atmosphere of a Japanese Aki Matsuri. The club celebrated its 25th year anniversary this year. The Japanese Ambassador to Australia, Kazuhiro Suzuki, also attended the event to thank the club’s efforts in supporting Canberra’s Japanese community and their contribution to Australia and Japan’s friendly relations and exchange. 

 This year, the event returned for the first time in 3 years due to Covid-19. Many CJC members and their families gathered for a lively and warm event. 

Various booths and stage performances to enjoy

View of the venue with booths lined up

 Numerous booths were set up in and around the Cook Community Hall, including cakes from the CJC Japanese Kindergarten, snacks from the CJC Community Language School, handicrafts from Hitohari no Kai, handicrafts from the Tanka Group, and an information booth by the Consular Section of the Embassy of Japan. 

Crowds formed at Fuji Bakery’s stall

The game area includes water balloon fishing – super popular among children!

 One of the most popular booths was Fuji Bakery, a Sydney-based bakery that often operates a stall for Japanese events in Canberra. For the first time in a while, I had a chance to try their yakisoba bread and Sakura mochi – both are rare to find here in Canberra. Almost everything was sold out just before the event ended! 

 In the children’s game area, there was water balloon fishing, just like the ones at Japanese matsuris. On the other side, Koitoya, which designs and makes woodwork and furniture based on traditional Japanese techniques and ideas, was running a workshop that attracted attention from children and adults of all ages. 

ANU Za Kabuki’s performance 

 After browsing all the booths, I returned to the hall and took my time to watch various performances on the stage. The first half featured cute performances by children from the CJC Japanese Kindergarten and CJC Community Language School, and a wonderful performance by the CJC Song Club. After a 30-minute break, the Australian National University’s (ANU) Za Kabuki club enchanted the audience with a wonderful performance by actors dressed in traditional Japanese costumes. The final stage was an Awa odori (dance) performance by the Japanese Dance Troupe. They not only danced on stage but also around the audience, naturally drawing people in to join in on the fun. It was such an enjoyable and lively time!

 A surprisingly large Japanese community in Canberra 

Awa odori (dance) that attracted a large crowd onto stage 

 Prior to this event, I was under the impression that Canberra’s Japanese community was relatively small. But after this event, I learnt that there are actually many Japanese families living in Canberra than I had thought. Without a doubt, it is the efforts and activities run by CJC that have brought together so many Japanese families living in Canberra. I hope there will be more and more Japanese events in Canberra that can be enjoyed by people of all ages. 

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