• Shona McCarthy

Melbourne Japanese Summer Festival 2021 Online!!!

Every year, one of the great festivals of Melbourne City is the Melbourne Natsu Matsuri. It takes over Federation Square with food, craft and art stalls, kimono booths, music, and dancing. Every year it is free to attend, and some years I have held a stall there myself, selling kimono and related goods.

But this year, due to Corona Virus related concerns, the festival will be held online! Which I think is very reasonable and responsible.

You can see their website for more details. Also, you'll want to follow the event via Facebook, since that is going to help you keep track of things as they develop.

(Images borrowed from The MJSF Webstite, 2021.)

Since it is a festival, I recommend having some Japanese food and snacks on hand as you watch it. One of my favourite drinks to buy at the festival was an icy yuzu lemon drink. In the past few years, yuzu has thankfully become far more common than it once was in Melbourne. But MJSF was the first place I got to try it. I also recommend wearing and Japanese clothing you might have, to create a stronger sense of being there. For me personally, MJSF was quite formative in terms of where I ended up, professionally. Since there are always stalls full of used kimono at the festival, I used to go and be jealous of all the girls walking around wearing kimono and yukata. It was one of the things that made me want to buy one. And so, the first yukata I ever bought for myself I bought at one of the stalls in MJSF. I can't help but think that like me, many Melbournians must have learned so much more about Japanese culture thanks to how bold and vibrant this festival is every year. One of the ways I ended up moving my personal business forwards was by running a stall at the festival. Without that experience of sewing many garments and then reselling them on the day, I never would have been so motivated to develop new products and open my online store. (See the banner below. And yes, sorry for this shameless plug.)

As the years have gone on, the festival has changed to become more inclusive of anime and cosplay culture, reflected in the best-dressed contests they hold each year. I intend to enter this year, probably wearing a yukata. Prizes include some classical anime DVDs and Blurays and premium membership on Animelab, an online anime streaming service which can be viewed for free, but additional options can be unlocked for money. So, winning would be nice. But I think I'll mostly participate just to show people traditional Japanese dress.

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