Explore the cultural wonders of Japan in Langley

From sushi to shakuhachi, the art, tastes and sounds of Japan come to Langley next week.

From sushi to shakuhachi, the art, tastes and sounds of Japan come to Langley next week.

Join the celebration of Japanese culture through visual art, food, music and dance Saturday, June 23 at the Northwest Language Academy Cultural Center in Langley. “The Riches of Japan” is the next in the academy’s Language of Food Series when cuisines and cultures from around the world are explored, along with the way in which such cultures maintain past traditions.

Several events will take place honoring Japan that day.

Through the week preceding the event, NWLA will host 21 Japanese fiber artists, who are in the United States as part of an exhibition on Japanese Quilts and Embroidery at the La Conner Quilt and Textile Museum. The evening Japanese feast, at which the artists will be hosting, will be a culmination of their stay. Kimonos and Japanese quilts and fiber arts will be on display, and guests are invited to mingle with the artists, ask questions and learn how to wear a kimono.

Academy board member Ako Shimozato is responsible for the visit of the Japanese textile artists, who will show their work in La Conner.

“The La Conner Textile Museum will hold its eighth annual Japanese quilt show. These artists will be here for three months and while they are on the island they will study English for three days while they stay at the Northwest Language Academy or nearby,” Shimozato said.

Shimozato likes to provide a full experience for visiting artists. To that end, in addition to the NWLA event, she will bring them on the Whidbey Island Garden Tour, as well as to other attractions around the island. They will meet the South Whidbey Quilters on the Rock group and learn how that group provides quilts for those serving abroad in the military and for disabled persons.

“These ladies have done a lot of work themselves for the survivors of the tsunami in northern Japan. They have much in common,” Shimozato said.

A cooking class from 2 to 5 p.m. will demonstrate the techniques of sushi and other traditional favorites.  The class will be led by Chef Kotaro Kumita, a disciple of Seattle sushi deity Shiro Kashiba — founder of the iconic restaurant Shiro’s Sushi.

Chef Kotaro will prepare a traditional Japanese dinner from 6 to 9 p.m. served family style on NWLA’s garden terrace.  Guests will enjoy appetizers, sake and Japanese beer as they take in the festive atmosphere, with performances of koto and shakuhachi music, and a performance by the Sound Singers Japanese Chorus. Yasuko Honjo Harris will be play Shinbue, a transverse bamboo flute.

NWLA is also delighted to welcome Mary Ohno and the members of her Kabuki Academy Performance Troupe for a performance of Japanese classical dance and the Kabuki arts.  Ohno has studied classical Japanese dance for 50 years, and earned the title of “Hanayagi Fumiryu” in 1966.  She and the troupe have performed at the Nippon-Kan Theater, the Seattle Art Museum and the Berklee College of Music, among other places.

Guests will also be treated to a performance by One World Taiko, a professional ensemble that presents a contemporary style of Japanese drumming. Combining original choreography and arrangements with rhythms drawn from Japan’s ancient tradition of festival drumming, the performance will incorporate dynamic movement, lyrical melodies, and heart-pounding percussion.

The event will be held at the NWLA Cultural Center in Langley.

Overnight accommodations are available in the center’s luxurious guesthouse.

The cost is $75 for dinner and performances, and $45 for the cooking class. Seating is limited.

Reserve early by calling 321-2101 or email info@nwlanguageacademy.com. To learn more about NWLA and upcoming programs or classes, visit www.nwlanguageacademy.com.

NWLA is a nonprofit organization that strives to bring the larger, global community to the local community through the study of languages and cultural enrichment. The center hopes to honor diversity, while building bridges of understanding and appreciation between people of different cultures.