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VENTURA : A Reminder of Their Heritage

October 03, 1994|JEFF McDONALD

Troy Yoshimoto clapped for the Japanese dancers, and his eyes sparkled during the sword play exhibition. But the 4-year-old Camarillo boy waited all afternoon Sunday for one thing: the karate demonstrations.

"All the (Mighty Morphin Power) Rangers do it," he said of the television cartoon heroes' penchant for the ancient martial art.

Troy, his 6-year-old brother, Shane, and their parents, Don and Gayle Yoshimoto, were among more than 300 people who crowded the Poinsettia Pavilion in Ventura on Sunday for the fourth annual event known as "Celebrating Our Heritage: A Festival of Japanese Cultural Arts."

Sponsored by the Ventura County chapter of the Japanese American Citizens League, the festival included performances by Japanese dancers, traditional drummers and costumed swordsmen, and demonstrations of ancient Japanese arts and crafts like brush-painting, paper folding known as origami and cooking.

"Being of Japanese heritage, I felt my sons should see the Japanese culture and not let it be forgotten," said Don Yoshimoto, a data processor from Camarillo. "I'm a third-generation American, so I wanted them to see what the Japanese heritage is all about."

"They're so Americanized," added the boys' mother, Gayle Yoshimoto.

The festival featured displays of Bonsai plants, origami and Japanese dolls.

In a nearby area, members of the league prepared miso soup and sushi, which was served to festival guests.

Karl Stocker, a native of Germany who is studying Japanese at Oxnard College, said he traveled through Japan as a younger man and wanted to check out the cultural demonstrations at the Poinsettia Pavilion.

"I expect to go back sometime, so it doesn't hurt to study the language," said Stocker, a Navy flight test engineer who lives in Port Hueneme. "The food's delicious too."

Oxnard dentist Tsujio Kato, president of the Ventura County chapter of the Japanese American association, said it is important for all Ventura County residents to know about the contributions Japanese Americans make to society.

"We're learning about our culture as much as other people," he said. "We're getting to the third, fourth and fifth generations, so unless you go to a Japanese school, you lose contact with the culture."

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