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Japanese Festival

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What do origami, samurai and calligraphy have in common? Originating in Japan, they will all be highlighted as part of the third-annual Japanese Festival in Boise during Japan Week.

In the past, Japan Week has been primarily celebrated on the Boise State campus and has focused on student-centered activities. This year, several off-campus events also aim to raise awareness of Japan Week throughout the community.

Boise's small, tightly-knit Idaho Japanese Association consists mostly of first-generation Japanese immigrants who do much more to honor their culture than scarf down dragon rolls at the plethora of sushi restaurants in this land-locked valley. Last year, the IJA contributed to Japan Week by hosting a sneak preview of the Japanese movie Departures at The Flicks. IJA will also kick off this year's festivities on Thursday with a free viewing of The Twilight Samurai, which will be shown at Idaho State Historical Museum following demonstrations of origami and calligraphy.

On Friday, the IJA brings you Japan Night, which promises demos of kendo and Iaido, Shorinji kempo, traditional flower arranging and a Shamisen performance. Area high-school students who study Japanese language will also be hanging around, ready to belt out songs in Japanese. While you won't find any raw fish here, bring cash for Japanese sweet treats and green tea. Also, be sure to hit up the flea market, which will be going on throughout the event.

Event organizer Shigeru Yokoyama says he hopes to beat last year's record attendance, adding, "The Japanese consulate from Portland, Ore., is in charge of Idaho, and he will be there." Sounds like you'd better make an appearance, too.

March 4, 6-8:30 p.m., FREE, Idaho Historical Museum, 610 N. Julia Davis Drive, 208-334-2120, idahohistory.net; March 5, 6-8 p.m., FREE, Idaho Power Building, 1221 W. Idaho St., 208-388-2200. For other Japan Festival events and times throughout the week, visit idahojapaneseassociation.org.

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