The most fun I’ve had at a local event in a while was at the Southern Alameda County Buddhist Church‘s Japanese Bazaar last weekend. You’ve probably driven past the church grounds on Alvarado-Niles in Union City a few times. When I saw Union City Patch’s article about the bazaar, I figured it was my chance to take a look. Good decision!
There were a lot of choices at the event. You could set your course for all food, all entertainment, or all family fun at the bazaar. Outdoors, there was a tantalizingly smoky teriyaki burger grill, a table laden with manju and (storebought) mochi, game stalls for kids and adults, bingo, a silent auction, and a few flea-market-type tables, including bonsai, peppers, and more. There was plenty of shade, a big bonus. You could also cool down with Japanese beer and other cold drinks.
If you headed into the sangha (community) hall, there were other shopping opportunities including used Japanese and English books (woohoo!), devotional items, jewelry, inexpensive vintage kimono, and handmade fabric items. A stage was set to feature everything from taiko to a lecture, but when we were there, it was ukulele. Can’t miss with ukulele, if they know what they’re doing, and they did. There was more manju and mochi, green tea ice cream, nachos (of course), and a well-organized hot food line that included udon, Japanese-style curry, and more. Cups of hot tea or cold water were included. I got the garlic noodles, a kind of Italian-Filipino-Japanese fusion, and really wanted to order another plate. At $3, I could have ordered two more! I admit I also split a teriyaki burger with my spouse. It was only $3.50 or so with pineapple added to it, and it was actually very good.
That was one great plus: although there was less variety, prices were about half of the cost of similar items at the Japantown Street Fair or Cherry Blossom Festival. Also, the noise level was lower, and you could eat indoors. It’s also very easy to get there, and although the parking lot was full, it wasn’t hard to park around the corner in a subdivision. In addition, this event is one of the few in the Tri-City area in which our Japanese and Japanese-American community is very visible. I felt a sense of strong community, particularly in the sangha hall as people greeted and talked with each other.
Admission is free, so I recommend checking this event out next year! They will also have an Obon event in August. Obon is a Japanese festival similar in some ways to Dia de los Muertos. Community members commemorate the spirits of the dead, may visit and clean family members’ graves, and may join festivals that include “Bon odori,” the Obon dance. SABC’s Obon event opens at 5 with food stalls until 6, and dancing starts at 7. According to the website, “everyone is invited!”
This year is the 50th anniversary of the founding of the church, and I think I read that they’re going to have a general celebration in the fall. If I find out details, I’ll post here.