Vietnam Culture Festival Comes to Tokyo
On June 13, in Tokyo, Yoyogi Park hosted the Vietnam Festival. The park was filled with Vietnamese culture displays, stalls selling authentic Vietnamese and Thai food and the stage was filled with rousing dance sequences celebrating Vietnamese culture.
The food at the event was delicious and plentiful. Besides the traditional Japanese event foods—yakisoba, castella, and takoyaki—Tokyo’s many Vietnamese restaurants served traditional foods like pho and spring rolls (fried or fresh) at the stalls. They even served popular snacks like chicken feet, fried shrimp cakes, and bánh xèo—called okonomiyaki in some stalls due to its resemblance. People were waiting in long lines to have a taste of Vietnamese dishes. There were almost as many Thai food stalls as there was Vietnamese so people could enjoy both foods. The dishes served included tom yam goong, green curry, and grilled chicken with spicy salad and noodles.
Vietnamese drinks were selling well too. The popular tourist item, Vietnamese coffee had people queuing. Other interesting drinks such as mango beer was available.
The festival also carried a great selection of shopping. Traditional and popular clothes were sold at the many stands selling clothes for couples and even cheap swimwear. Fresh fruit was available including mangos, Thieu litchi, star apples, and durian.
One of the most popular parts of the event was the water puppet show. A traditional theatrical show in Vietnam that dates back a thousand years, it took place in a small pool with the puppeteers hidden behind a black curtain controlling the puppets movements and dances. Each puppet was well dressed and polished. The shows varied from little girls dancing, musicians playing their songs and even a fire-breathing dragon slithering through the water and actually puffing fire out of its mouth. Accompanying the puppet shows were actual musicians playing traditional Vietnamese folk music. The crowds were gathering and laughing at the show’s opulence.
The highlight of the event was the many intercultural dances performed on stage. Some of these were young ladies performing a fan dance and another group performing with traditional hats. The Tokyo Vietnamese School played a part with kids singing.
There were also puppet shows: one about a fisherman sailing across the river which had a large wooden puppet man in a boat sailing across the stage and another about maidens dancing around the river. The puppeteers were hidden behind the decorated sets. The stories were told through a singer on stage singing traditional songs.
The stage had more than just Vietnamese shows. There was a great Japanese taiko drum performance and even actors performing a dance with Japanese swords. The crowds were cheering loudly at each spectacular performance.
The final performance was pop musical number called Love Vietnam Show. It featured popular Vietnamese singers Hien Thuc, Van Mai Huong, and Pham Anh Khoa. It resulted in an enthusiastic crowd with a chance to see something the Vietnamese find popular.
The Vietnamese Festival lasted in Yoyogi Park on June 13 and 14. It took place from 10 am to 8 pm. There will be another Vietnam Festival in Tohoku this October. For a taste of Vietnam culture and heritage, be sure to try it out.