Here’s how to best enjoy this weekend’s Japanese Food and Cultural Bazaar

Daniel Yee, left, and other drummers perform with the Koyasan Taiko Group at the 2012 Japanese Food and Cultural Bazaar.
Daniel Yee, left, and other drummers perform with the Koyasan Taiko Group at the 2012 Japanese Food and Cultural Bazaar. lsterling@sacbee.com

Come for the teriyaki chicken. Stay for the taiko drumming.

The Buddhist Church of Sacramento will host its 71st annual Japanese Food and Cultural Bazaar this weekend. A long-running Sacramento summer tradition, the bazaar is an opportunity to enjoy freshly made food and learn about Japanese culture and Buddhist practices.

“It’s this huge, wonderful generational tradition,” said Koichi Mizushima, minister’s assistant and director of programs at the Buddhist Church of Sacramento, adding that some of the booths in the bazaar have been run by the same families for decades.

The two-day event is expected to draw as many as 35,000 people. Planned events include folk music performances, a demonstration on the art of cultivating miniature trees, and a brief introduction to Shin Buddhism. The bazaar runs from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.

There’s a lot to do during the bazaar, so Mizushima’s advice is: “Make a day of it; don’t be in a rush.” Stay for a couple hours, enjoy the food and music, and check out classes on subjects such as flower arrangement and calligraphy.

Long lines may be inevitable at a popular festival like this one, but they don’t have to limit your experience. Mizushima said that while the queue for the teriyaki chicken or beef can be daunting, other food lines usually are much shorter. Food at the bazaar this year will include poke bowls, various types of sushi and handmade onigiri rice balls.

Neil Tanaka, left, Grace Higashi, right, and other volunteers prepare chicken teriyaki at the 2012 Japanese Food and Cultural Bazaar. Lezlie Sterling lsterling@sacbee.com

The temperature this weekend is expected to reach a high of 94 degrees, so Mizushima suggests arriving early to take advantage of a relatively cooler part of the day. There will also be indoor seating and a large sun shade over outdoor seating areas. Cold treats such as snow cones tend to help with the heat as well.

The Japanese Bazaar began in 1947 as a festive event for Japanese-American residents to celebrate culture and community after being held in internment camps during World War II. Since then, the bazaar has welcomed more attendees to help raise funds for the Buddhist church and also to pass on the traditions of art and food.

“We really appreciate how much the community appreciates the bazaar,” Mizushima said.

Karen Marks: 916-321-1136, @karenmarks_

Japanese Food and Cultural Bazaar

Where: Buddhist Church of Sacramento, 2401 Riverside Blvd.

When: 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Aug. 12-13

Cost: Free admission

Information: (916) 446-0121, buddhistchurch.com

Related stories from Sacramento Bee