A Brief History of Ginza

Jul
14

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A Brief History of Ginza Holiday

Back in 1955, our temple decided to create an ambitious fundraising event that would introduce Japanese food and entertainment to the temple’s neighbors. The name Ginza Holiday Festival is taken from the famous district in Tokyo, which for centuries has been a center of shops and entertainment. Today with its brightly lit neon signs, the district still attracts millions of visitors.

Our early Ginza was also brightly lit with Japanese lanterns lining the street outside our temple and featured an authentically decorated stage and traditional red torii gates at the festival’s entrances (if you visit Ginza Holiday these days, you will still pass through these original torii gates).

Entertainment consisted of classical Japanese dancing, minyo (Japanese folk dancing), musicians including shamisen and koto artists, and demonstrations of martial arts, including judo, karate and kendo.

At the first Ginza, we introduced our now-famous chicken teriyaki, a family recipe of an early temple member. This was the very first time many visitors had experienced Japanese culture and cuisine, and it was a resounding success. Throughout the years, the Ginza Holiday Festival has grown and become a significant neighborhood event on Chicago’s summer calendar.

(Ginza in the 1960s)

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