The Japanese community in east London is coming together to showcase traditional street food and live performances this Christmas.
Yokimono Japanese Christmas Market 2021 will be going ahead in its third event running in Hackney.
It consists of traditional and contemporary Japanese arts and crafts, culture and food, as well as unique and authentic gifts for Christmas.
Organiser Sonoe Sugawara, who is the mum of a seven-year-old, says the event is a way to show east Londoners what Japanese culture is.
The business-owner has been in London for nearly 20 years and has always lived in North East London.
Initially, she started her vintage kimono business in 2009 as a stall holder in Spitalfields Antique Market, she then opened a shop in Dalston in 2019.
But she had always dreamed of connecting locals in Hackney, Haringey and Islington – where her family spend most of their time – with her culture.
She was given the opportunity to do this when the owner of The Factory (the event venue and also the landlord of her shop) asked her if she wanted to do an event,
“I thought it was the best opportunities to realise my wish<,” she told MyLondon. “The owner of the Factory, Mehmed is very generous and supportive.
“The first event took place in June 2019, then we did not plan to continue.
“But because of high demands from the Japanese traders and visitors, we did the second event in Christmas time in 2019.”
“This coming Sunday’s Yokimono Japanese Market is our third event. It was very hard to decide if we should go ahead or not, because of this Covid situation.
“But again I was requested by Japanese traders and also customers. I am a small business owner and I know it is the challenging time for us.
“We would like to support local Japanese business and contribute our culture to local communities in this Christmas time within the Government rules.”
Yokimono means ‘good things’ in Japanese, market traders will be offering delicious Japanese food and sweets, vintage kimono, ceramics, illustrations, stationary, clothing, jewellery and more – all made in Japan or produced by Japanese artists in London.
There will also be live performances from Japanese musicians and dancers, Furoshiki eco-wrap demonstrations and Kimono dressing demonstrations.
Sonoe says the Japanese community in North East London is not very big, but the event gives those who know each other to catch up, and those who don’t, to socialise.
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She said: “Our children come and watch the live performance and try our traditional Japanese street food as well as visitor families.
“Visitors’ children play with our children at the event. It is very relaxed and family friendly event.”
Speaking about how Christmas is celebrated in Japanese families, she said it is usually very relaxed.
“Traditionally, majority of Japanese in Japan don’t celebrate Christmas in a religious way. But we love to get together to have festive feeling with a nuclear family and friends.
“Officially New Year (1st of January, not Chinese New Year) is more important. New Year celebration is more family gatherings, with grand parents and extended family.
“We visit Shinto shrines and Buddhist temples and make wishes. Christmas time is more casual.”
However, this year it is unlikely for those who wish to travel to Japan to meet their families back home, she says.
The event is a great opportunity for those who cannot travel this year.
“Our market have no public funding, just curated by me. I think it is more East London style and more relaxed,” she added.
The event will be taking place from 11am to 6pm on Sunday, December 12 at THE FACTORY, 21-31 Shacklewell Lane, Dalston, Hackney, E8 2DA.
You can click here to book your free entry.
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