GESCA's Cultural Events

What are GESCA’s Cultural Events?

It is our way of sharing the art/culture/foods/life experiences of the Japanese with our community. Our dream is to have regular events, classes/workshops, and continue our yearly festival. Through our Cultural Events, we will provide a taste of Japan to East County.

If you would like to volunteer, please contact us

The Japanese Culture

If you are reading this, you already know the appeal of Japanese culture.  What makes Japanese culture so unique?  It is the way that Japan has managed to hold on to centuries-old traditions and meld them into modern-day society.  We here in Gresham can only offer a small taste of Japanese culture.  Here are some links you may enjoy checking out.

Bonsai

Bonsai

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Taiko Drums

Taiko Drums

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Ikebana

Ikebana

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Manga & Anime

Manga & Anime

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Koto-Kai

Koto

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Origami

Origami

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The Evolution of GESCA’s Cultural Events

In May 2012 GESCA hosted its first cultural event under the original name of ‘Skosh’ at the Greater Gresham Baptist Church. Scheduled for 2 hours, we hoped for at least 50 guests. We were surprised when over 200 visitors showed up. Over 75 volunteers:

  • Displayed collections of kokeishi dolls (cylinder shape without arms), amigurumi (crochet animals), and bonsai plants.

  • Sharied plans for the Gresham Japanese Garden renovation project.

  • Provided demonstrations in food, origami, and kimono dressing.

  • Shared info about Japanese language programs at Gresham High School, Mt Hood Community College, and Reynolds High School.

  • Shared stories from the internment of the Japanese during WWII.

  • Clarence Mershone told about his life on the Sandy River and the many Japanese families who were his neighbors.

  • Debuted the Portland State Taiko Ensemble’s first performance.

Our event moved to MHCC in 2013 and we added a full entertainment program: Storytelling, Japanese traditional dance, Koto (13 string zither type instrument), and brought in Portland Taiko (drums). MHCC students hosted a program for children, with lots of activities and a chance to try new foods. Several craft people joined to share their talents: Bunka (Japanese embroidery), haiku (Japanese poetry), anime/manga (art style), and 3-D origami. Games were shared: Hana Fuda and Go. Bamboo Grove Hawaiian Grill sold yakisoba. The internment program was enlarged and we had internees talk about their experiences.  Books were sold by local authors who wrote about that time, Densho the oral history project was accessed via the internet so we could view videos of internees, and there was a nice conversation area for one-to-one discussions.

The third year, 2014 we found our home…Gresham Main City Park turned out to be the perfect setting for this event since Tsuru Island is right there. This was our first outdoor event. We cut back on the entertainment, increased foods that were sold, brought in community activists and environmental organizations. There were speakers, tours of the garden and a plant sale. GESCA added activities such as calligraphy, koto, and dance.

Get Connected with the Culture of Japan

We will be offering classes and workshops for students and adults; food demonstrations, speakers, and whatever interests the community. Come back to this site to see what is going on. Contact us with your ideas or if you are interested in, or would like to sponsor an activity.

View our photo gallery.

Japan: from Ancient to Modern

If you have time, this is a video worth watching. It was filmed in 2006 but still is relevant today. Jack Turner shows how the Japanese respect for ancient traditions helped mold Japan into a major modern industrial power. Building earthquake resistant pagodas led to Tokyo’s skyscrapers. Samurai sword making led to exquisite surgical tools. Tea ceremony bowls led to electronic microchips. And karakuri dolls became today’s robots. Enjoy it!

Enjoy “Journeys in Japan”

Every Wednesday evening, from 6:00 to 6:30, you can watch “Journeys in Japan” on public TV station OPB.  Each episode is hosted by an English-speaking gaijin (foreigner) who explores little-known parts of Japan.  A prominent theme seems to be that of younger Japanese moving from big cities to rural parts of Japan and helping to reinvigorate local culture.  It is well worth watching.

Schedule on OPB.org