The 46th Annual Powell Street Festival Returns to Oppenheimer Park with a Sumo Tournament, Live Music, Dance Performances and More

(This story is sponsored by the .)

To keep the community safe during the pandemic, the has transformed its large public celebration into online and smaller in-person events over the past two years. Although the pivot has been deeply appreciated by many, it is ultimately it’s time to get together in Oppenheimer Park and the surrounding neighborhood of Paueru Gai (Powell Street).

On July 30 and 31, Vancouver’s historic Japanese Canadian neighborhood will be filled with contemporary and traditional music, dance and theater, food stalls, martial arts demonstrations, and more. Festival-goers can also explore the after watching the martial arts demonstration and sumo tournament.

“Nothing can replace the positive energy of an in-person gathering for any type of celebration,” shares Powell Street Festival Executive Director Emiko Morita. “This is especially true for our festival because it takes place in such a geographically significant location.”

Omikoshi
Kayla Isomura

Create a stronger community

Since 1977, the Powell Street Festival Society (PSFS) has fostered connections among Downtown Eastside (DTES) residents through arts and culture. Its annual event is one of the largest and oldest community festivals in all of Canada.

“Due to our forced eviction from the neighborhood during World War II, very few Japanese Canadians live there today. However, we have a good relationship with people living in the DTES and I would say the help is mutual,” says Morita. “The community has suffered tremendous hardship and loss due to multiple crises of inadequate housing, toxic drugs, as well as the pandemic. The PSFS makes every effort to mobilize art and culture in the service of equity for all.

Those who live in the DTES understand the complicated history of the displacement of Japanese Canadians from the area and support the festival and its much-anticipated return. The positive impact of the Powell Street Festival can be felt by all who attend the annual event.

“It’s important that we provide the entire Vancouver community with a fully accessible and diverse lineup of programming that challenges the voices of Japanese Canadians while encouraging a deeper sense of connectedness,” says she.

Paueru Mashup
Andy Chan

An event for all

From contemporary and traditional arts to Japanese cuisine, crafts and family activities, people of all ages can participate in the festival.

Festival-goers will be able to attend performances by violinist-extremist Kytami & Phonik Ops, Vancouver band Jo Passed and dancer-choreographer-actor Hiromoto Ida. Opera singer Teiya Kasahara will also take the stage at the Powell Street Festival with Onibana Taiko, three veterans of Vancouver’s taiko drumming community.

While most events are scheduled to take place at Oppenheimer Park, a handful of offerings can be found offsite.

ProgramSounds’ exhibition Kūsou 空相, which draws inspiration from Japanese calligraphy and the Western flute, is at the Anvil Center in New Westminster. The immersive and dynamic audiovisual experience was created through the collaboration of four talented artists.

The team consists of Japanese calligrapher Aiko Hatanaka (Tokyo), flautist Mark Takeshi McGregor (Vancouver), videographer Ryo Kanda (Tokyo), and soundscape artist and interactive systems developer Yota Kobayashi (Vancouver).

Originally created to engage virtual attendees during the pandemic, community dancing is here to stay. In July, people can attend free, walk-in classes at Oppenheimer Park, which are led by qualified instructors.

The Paueru Mashup 2022 combines the harmonious music of Onibana Taiko with the choreography of Compagnie 605 and will be performed as a group during the weekend of the festival. The choreography is accessible and no prior dance experience is required.

And since the warm summer weather has finally arrived, the festival has called on students from the University of British Columbia (UBC) to help keep guests cool. Students from UBC’s School of Architecture and Landscape Architecture designed and built custom fountains and misters. The PSFS team encourages people to stay hydrated by bringing a refillable water bottle or participating in their cup share program.

The two-day event will also feature where ticket holders can win one of 20 prizes offered by independent businesses in the community. All proceeds will go to the Powell Street Festival Society, ensuring its resilience and sustainability.

“While attending the festival, expect your assumptions about Canadian-Japanese identity to be challenged through our extensive presentation of contemporary and traditional performances, demonstrations and activities,” reveals Morita.

For more information and the full festival lineup, visit

Follow the Powell Street Festival on , and for updates.

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