Origami, kimonos, anime, bonsai, sudoku and all-things Japanese will be celebrated Sunday, when Palo Alto holds a festival in honor of its sister city Tsuchiura, Japan.
The free event, happening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Lucie Stern Community Center, 1305 Middlefield Road, will feature activities and presentations including a silent auction, tea ceremonies and meditation led by a Zen priest, martial-arts demonstrations, dancing, art booths, films and games for kids.
"I really hope all of Palo Alto comes out and sees the beauty of Japanese culture," organizer Keiko Nakajima said.
One of the many cultural products of Japan to be highlighted includes Cosplay (short for "costume play"), a performance art in which participants dress in elaborate costumes and accessories to portray specific characters from Japanese comic books (manga) or cartoons (anime). At Sunday's event, kids (from kindergarteners to high schoolers) can come dressed to compete for best-costume glory and prizes.
Artistic kids have also entered their homemade anime drawings into the event's competition, which Nakajima, who works with middle-school students, said have been quite impressive.
"I have a lot of entrees and I cannot believe how talented these kids are. I'm very happy about that," she said.
Mayor Koshi Nakagawa and City Council Chair Akira Orimoto of Tsuchiura will be special guests, appearing at noon in a celebration ceremony with Palo Alto Mayor Pat Burt and former Mayor Yoriko Kishimoto.
An official from Tsuchiura will also be bringing a special gift -- an invitation for a Palo Altan to travel to Japan and compete in the city's international marathon next April. Nakajima said the lucky runner will be chosen by November, and interested athletes can contact firstname.lastname@example.org.
The event is sponsored by the City of Palo Alto and its Neighbors Abroad program, with support from the Consulate General of Japan in San Francisco.
More information, including a full schedule, is available online at neighborsabroad.org.
Tsuchiura and Palo Alto became official sister cities in 2009 but have a relationship that dates back to 1993, when a student-exchange program started between the two municipalities.
Palo Alto's other five sister cities are Palo, Leyte, Philippines; Oaxaca, Mexico; Enschede, The Netherlands; Linkoping, Sweden; and Albi, France.