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Powell Street Festival Society • パウエル祭協会 | Celebrating Japanese Canadian arts and culture since 1977
KT performing at the 2014 Powell Street Festival • photo by Jeanie Ow

Powell Street Festival
is this weekend!

Check out the schedule on our website!

The Powell Street Festival, the largest Japanese Canadian festival in the country and Metro Vancouver’s longest running community arts festival, will return for its 41st year on August 5 & 6, 2017 from 11:30am – 7:00pm daily. The festival is centered at Oppenheimer Park (400 Block, Powell Street) and surrounding streets (Jackson and Dunlevy Avenues, Alexander Street) and venues – the Firehall Arts Centre (280 East Cordova Street), Vancouver Japanese Language School and Japanese Hall (475 Alexander Street) and Vancouver Buddhist Temple (220 Jackson Avenue).

If you would like to volunteer for the Festival, please come to the Park on August 5 or 6 and chat with Louise at the volunteer booth!



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The theme for this year’s festival is Re:Generation, Seeds of the Past, Leaves of the Future. Performers and presenters will consider the connections between us, engaging with memory while thinking about the future. Ottawa-based artist Matt Miwa performs Dandelion, inspired by Joy Kogawa’s work, while Joy herself will explore her work in new ways with Suitcase of Memories featuring Soramaru Takayama. At the Firehall Theatre, check out a production of NeOn-ね音 – Mayumi Yoshida’s play about love inspired by her late grandmother’s arranged marriage.

George & Noriko –– a Japanese blues cowboy and Tsugaru shamisen player from Melbourne brought to us by the Consulate General of Japan –– reimagine the possibilities of music, while Ensemble Liberta will bring their classical Japanese instruments all the way from Japan, offering an interactive demo following their performance. Other special events include iconic Japanese author Haruki Murakami’s top translators Jay Rubin and Ted Goossen, and a presentation on Japan’s third gender curated by Asato Ikeda.

Film screenings at the Firehall Arts Centre, co-presented with the Hapa-palooza Festival, include the award-winning short Born With It and a screening from Almost Asian –– a web series created and starring Katie Malia, who will be joining us from Los Angeles.

This year’s award-winning design competition the “Macro-Maki” will be located in Oppenheimer Park’s interactive zone and allows festival attendees to don pillow-sized sushi costumes and shoot selfies on a stage that’s designed like a massive wooden sushi tray. Our craft market will be selling a wide variety of original handmade goods. Last, but not least, over 20 food vendors will be serving authentic and oishii Japanese food along Dunlevy and Jackson avenues as well as Alexander Street.

Enjoy perusing this festival guide, including the schedule and illustrated map, to help plan your festival experience. We look forward to celebrating with you throughout the weekend!

Community Events!

August  19, 2017
10 am to 4 pm
Oppenheimer Park

The Vancouver Asahi Baseball Tribute Game takes place at the Vancouver Asahi's 1941 home field, Oppenheimer Park. The opening ceremony includes a tribute to the legendary Vancouver Asahi Baseball Team. Following this, community ball teams play a Round Robin style tournament and then enjoy a free lunch. This event is free and open to everyone -- all ages, genders and skill-level!


Jim Wong-Chu and Tracey Morrison

We recently lost two incredible members of our community, Jim Wong-Chu and Tracey Morrison.  We send our condolences to Jim and Tracey’s friends and families.

Jim Wong-Chu was an author and mentor. His friend and colleague, Rich Shiomi, shared his words with us below.

Tracey Morrison was an activist and community leader in the Downtown East Side and was President of the Western Aboriginal Harm Reduction Society. She was also active at Vancouver Area Network of Drugs Users. She was often seen in the Downtown East side selling bannock in the street, which she identified as outreach work. Tracey authored an essay on the fentanyl crisis published by the CBC earlier this year. Her celebration of life was held at Oppenheimer Park on August 21st.


In the early years of the Powell Street Festival, Jim was one of the key people from the Chinese Canadian community that crossed over to volunteer for the festival, along with others like Paul Yee, Sean Gunn and SKY Lee.  They saw our efforts as part of the larger Asian Canadian arts movement and supported us with their time and energy.

But Jim Wong-Chu was so much more. He was in many ways the “mayor” of the Asian Canadian arts community in Vancouver.  With his founding and leading of the Pender Guy radio program, the Asian Canadian Writers Workshop, the literASIAN festival  and the Ricepaper literary magazine, he was the leading light of the Asian Canadian writers’ scene not only in Vancouver but across Canada.  I still have a copy of  Inalienable Rice: A Chinese and Japanese Anthology from 1979, which I had the honor of somehow ending up as a co-editor with him and several others. And he was an accomplished and published poet in his own right, a martial arts instructor and insightful photographer.  With all of these accomplishments, I will always feel deeply about Jim because he understood that it is the tide of our movement that raises all the boats in the water.  And he did this work of mentoring and organizing, not out of some sense of duty or obligation, but because he cared so much about all of us, had the vision to see what was possible and took on the leadership for these projects.

On a personal note, I have so many fond memories of Jim from the early days, wandering through Chinatown, working on new projects and having meals at the old Ho Ho restaurant. But the one I will always remember was the time we formed the producing company Breakeven Productions (with Mayu Takasaki).  Our one great adventure was bringing up the musical group from San Francisco that included Philip Gotanda, David Hwang, Robert Kikuchi-Yngojo and Sammy Takimoto. We were crazy but committed to something bigger than either of us individually.  Our ways parted as I moved off into the Asian American theater world and he stayed to become the founding father of so many Asian Canadian arts institutions.  But we remained close in spirit and one of the joys of my return to Vancouver last year for the 40thanniversary festival was having Jim take me on a tour of the city, two old friends just hanging out together and then having a big meal with lots of friends at a Chinese restaurant of Jim’s choosing.

For me, Jim was a giant upon whose shoulders so many have been raised up. I was so fortunate to have been his friend when we were both starting out and I will always be thankful to him for all he has done for the Asian Canadian community



Hapa Collaborative, Transcendence Foundation, Kami Insurance, Shinobu Homma, Kikuye Komori, Grace Thomson, Kiyo Goto, Lenita Wong, Gordon Kadota, Anonymous, Gary Kuromi, Miko Hoffman, Maple Fun Tours, Barbara Pulling in memory of Richard Masahiro Shinde, Colin Chan, Shirley Peerenboom, Al Pasternak, Axel Starck, Colin Yakashiro, Cynthia Kay Patton, Leslie Uyeda, Pacific Fresh Produce Distributor, Figure 1 Publishing, Blim, Arsenal Pulp Press, Konbiniya Japan Center, Daiso, Aburi Restaurants of Canada, Benny’s Foods, Cartems Donuterie, FreshPoint Vancouvuer, Opus Art Supplies, Pure Float, Cadeaux Bakery, Fujiya, Geist Magazine, Hapa Izakaya, JTB International, Vancouver International Dance Festival, Listel Canada and Forage and Timber, Museum of Anthropology, Queer Film Festival, Regional Assembly of Text, Republica Coffee, Sunrise, The Cinematheque, Vancouver Canadians Professional Baseball Club, Vancouver International Film Festival, Vancouver New Music, Vancouver Opera, Vancouver Shinpo, Vancouver Writers Fest, Glico, Real Canadian Superstore, T & T Supermarket Inc., Parallel 49, The Bulletin, Diane Kadota, John Endo Greenaway, East Van Graphics, Lookout Society and the Getaway, Oppenheimer Park Staff, The Wise Hall, Abaton, Med Tech, Vancouver Buddhist Temple, Yoshio Arai, Julien Fagnan, and ALL of our dedicated volunteers, coordinators, staff, Board Members and alumni!

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For information on the various Community Events that PSFS supports and/or thinks that might be of interest to you, please click here

Community Events

Thank you again to all of our festival supporters!
You can see the full list on our website!

Send Us Your Event!

Do you have a Japanese Canadian or Downtown Eastside community related event? Powell Street Festival Society is pleased to offer our community partners the opportunity to submit their own special events. We will publicize suitable events and activities. It’s our little way of saying thank you for your hard work in our community! Send us via Community Event Submission Form. 
© 2017 Powell Street Festival Society, All rights reserved.

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