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Third Time Is The Charm For Taste Of Japan 2021

Organisers say the third time is the charm for Taste of Japan 2021 when it opens at Life Central in Mt Eden on Saturday 24 July at 10am. This is the third attempt by the team at the New Zealand Japan Society of Auckland Inc. (NZJS) to put on this much-loved event.

Newly-elected President and event co-ordinator, Sonia Yoshioka Braid, says Taste of Japan 2021 ‘Kizuna’ is a wonderful celebration of Japanese culture, food, and fun.

“In 2020 the Covid-19 lockdowns really put a strain on our community, with people feeling isolated as they did their part to keep the virus at bay. We tried to put Taste of Japan on last year, and again in February this year, but both times Covid-19 scuppered our plans. Third time really is the charm, and we’re delighted to bring an event that coincides with the start of the Tokyo Olympic Games.”

Taste of Japan, which has been run for over a decade by NZJS, features a range of performers, food and craft stalls, and the chance to engage with aspects of Japanese culture, including tea ceremony, calligraphy, and origami. It will open with a performance by the Haere Mai Taiko drummers. The event also celebrates the society’s 60th anniversary, which fell in 2020.

“This year, since travelling to Japan is off-limits for so many, we’re offering the chance for people to take a ‘virtual tour’ of four key regions in Japan. Our original event director, Kumiko Imai-Duxfield created the concept, and brought in a diverse group of performers to play songs from the regions. We will also play videos sourced from the Japan National Tourism Office (JNTO) which showcase some lovely aspects of each region,” says Yoshioka Braid.

Taste of Japan 2021 “Kizuna’ is being held in a new venue – Life Central in Normanby Road, Mt Eden. Yoshioka Braid says they were delighted when Life Venues came on board as a sponsor. “We have been really lucky with our family of sponsors for Taste of Japan 2021. They have been flexible and supportive as we had to pivot quite suddenly in February. Auckland went into Level 3 lockdown on February 14, which meant our event on February 20th had to be postponed, with very little lead time.

“This event is the culmination of a lot of hard work by our performers, volunteers and stall holders to create something that really is a taste of Japan, right here in New Zealand. We really hope people will enjoy themselves.”

Taste of Japan 2021 ‘Kizuna’ is supported by Life Venues, St Pierre’s Sushi, Foundation North, Auckland Council’s Creative Communities, the Lotteries Grants Board, and Nippon Tea.


Background information

The New Zealand Japan Society of Auckland Inc. was founded in 1960, as a “two-way bridge between two countries” – New Zealand and Japan. For over 60 years the society has offered a range of connections between the two countries, including the study of Japanese language and culture, community and sporting events, and extended a helping hand to provide hospitality and information to visitors on both sides of the Pacific Ocean.

The society also has special interest groups including Japanese Tea Ceremony, and Haere Mai Taiko drummers, who offer an insight into these unique arts.

Known for its inclusive nature, NZJS welcomes people from all backgrounds to share their love and experiences of Japanese culture.


The Japanese word ‘kizuna’ means “bond or connection between people” and it was Japan’s kanji character of 2011, typifying the bonds of friendship and support forged after the earthquake and tsunami suffered that year.

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