Huge thanks to everyone who attended this year’s Fukuoka Canada Day Party! It was even bigger than last year with 1,158 in attendance! Blessed with nice weather, guests enjoyed the open terrace which featured a charcoal barbecue. Huge cuts of Canadian salmon and juicy Canadian beef were grilled and served on buns as savory sandwiches. The three hundred free lobster tails awarded to early arrivals went, as expected, quickly! The poutine, Canadian beef & pork plate, pancakes with maple syrup were also popular. Special thanks to our MC Micaela who kept everyone informed and the stage hopping. Near panic ensued when she announced the Tim Hortons coffee drinking event. Fifty lucky guests enjoyed authentic Tim Hortons coffee in real Tim Horton paper cups. We’ll definitely have more Tim Hortons next year. Thomas Lyons, (from Nova Scotia), entertained the crowd with his singing and guitar with two sets of Canadian classics, and led the crowd along with Micaela for an pride-filled rendition of the Canadian anthem. After the Canada Dry Speed drinking and best Canadian outfit contests, the lucky draw for a free flight to Vancouver aboard China Airlines was announced… and the winner was a university student, Kazutaka Toyonaga! Congratulations Kazutaka and enjoy your trip to Vancouver, Canada! “Manubi”, the cute beaver character from Manulife Japan was there, as was Alan from the Embassy of Canada (Tokyo) offering advice and information to people interested in studying in Canada. And we can’t forget to mention the sleek and sexy Can-Am roadster parked in the center of the lobby – Wow! – that was the most popular photo backdrop all night. All in all it was a lot of fun. A great mix of many nationalities eating, drinking, laughing and enjoying a small slice of Canada right here in Fukuoka! Happy Canada Day! Want to know more about what happened? Chiara Crean wrote up her first-person report – scroll down and enjoy!
CANADA DAY 2014 GALLERY
Photos by: Tristan Van der Wereld, Ryo Ikeo and Nick
CANADA DAY 2014 VIDEO
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Special thanks to all of our sponsors and collaborators for “Fukuoka Canada Day 2014” – We hope we can do it again with you next year!
THANKS TO: Embassy of Canada, Manulife Japan, China Airlines and Fukuoka Canada Society. Nitto Shoji Ltd., Sfoods, Hirata Sangyo, Tenjin Monolith, Speed Motor Garage (CAN-AM), and 2 Dogs Bar & Grill. Micaela, Thomas, Olivia, Tomo, Miki, Miho, Hiroko, Kenji, Mari, Natusmi, Miharu, Aki, Mike, Amy, Hara-san, Tristan , Ryo, Mamiko, Tatsuhiko, Kohji, Shane, Ellery, Tsubasa, and Emiko!
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Party Report by Chiara Crean
A long queue of hundreds of excited faces are waiting outside while the staff are getting ready to open the doors to tonight’s Fukuoka Canada Day Party. Outside, the Canadian flag is flapping in the pleasant summer breeze. Given the red and white color scheme, and the abundance of momiji-style maple leaves, you may be forgiven for thinking tonight’s event is Japan themed. In fact we are here for a jolly old party with lashings of maple syrup and ginger ale, in true Canadian style. This is the fourteenth year of the event organized by Fukuoka Now – and it’s looks set to be the best yet!
Inside the lobby we are greeted by a photo op with a gleaming white Can-Am Spyder, a high-tech Canadian roadster (three-wheeled motorcycle). On the other side there is a sparkling candelabra for a more glamorous picture opportunity. The Manulife mascot, “Manubi” is roaming around and playing with the crowd. Participants grab a drink and get a maple leaf-shaped face tattoo reading “Fukuoka, eh?” before they make their way upstairs to the main room.
The MC for the night is Micaela Braithwaite, Canadian-born blogger and the mayor of the city’s virtual ward “Kawaii-ku”. She comes on wearing a Toronto Maple Leafs shirt and glamorous peacock feather earrings, looking as gorgeous as you’d expect from the queen of kawaii.
On the outdoor patio, people are enjoying the BBQ with huge pieces of salmon and beef sizzling and giving off an mouthwatering bouquet. Other Canadian goodies are available, including beef, pork and lobster, pancakes with maple syrup and of course, poutine. I talked to Midori, who is sampling Canadian cuisine for the first time. The first words out of her mouth are “maple syrup”. She was surprised by the salmon and maple syrup combination available tonight. Her first reaction on trying it? Oishii!
Thomas Lyons, from Nova Scotia, takes to the stage sporting a cool black cap, Canadian flag wrapped around his waist and swigging a beer, setting the tone for his first set. He belts out a line up of Canadian classics. His expressive guitar and husky vocals give the room a feel-good vibe. In his second set, a few audience members are so taken that they start climbing on the stage to stuff 1000 yen notes down his belt.
Between music sets, footage from a recent Team Canada ice hockey match is playing on the big screen. This icebreaker has proved a good starting point for many conversations I overhear. There are plenty of winter sports fans tonight, and they are relishing the chance to discuss one of Canada’s most popular pastime.
The Canadian Embassy have a representative on hand to speak with people interested in studying in Canada. Some attendees have already been won over. Daiki, a student from Fukuoka, spent a year studying and skiing in Canada. He is wearing a Toronto T-shirt he picked up in the airport as a souvenir on his way back home. He says the best thing about this evening is the international atmosphere. It reminds him of the culture of Canada itself, a friendly multi-cultural society!
The Tim Hortons coffee give-away creates a bit of a panic! Fifty cup are distributed to guests wanting to have a sip of authentic Tim Hortons coffee, served in authentic Tim Hortons cups. Canadian Naomi is excited to see this Canadian favorite in Fukuoka. “At home I used to drink this coffee all the time, it’s so hard to find in Japan! It’s great that some people tonight will get the chance to try it.”
The Canadian trivia quiz results in some lively, friendly competition, ending in an energetic rock-paper-scissors contest. The lucky winner of a bottle of maple syrup is Kaori. One-eighth Canadian through her grandfather, Kaori has personal reasons to be proud of her Canadian trivia knowledge. Chuffed to have won, she cracks opens her prize and takes a big swig before offering it to everyone around her. She is with Ken, a Canadian who has been living in Fukuoka for ten years. They met tonight and are already great friends. Ken says, “The energy tonight has been fantastic, everyone is so friendly and I’ve talked to lots of interesting people.”
The Canada Dry Ginger Ale speed drinking competition causes a stir, as twelve tough contestants, including two women, take to the stage ready to prove their strength against the super-spicy ginger ale. In the first heat, the shortest man wins, proving that technique is more important than size in this race. When asked the secret to his success, he answers “drinking the whole bottle all in one gulp.” The Japanese contestants outshone their international rivals in tonight’s competition, showing that you don’t have to be Canadian to party like one.
I talked to Andrew, an American who came second in his heat. This is his first time participating in a speed drinking competition and he is keen to improve his technique and go pro! When asked if anything would make this evening’s event more truly Canadian, he jokes “Only the Canadian border police are missing”, a fitting response from a citizen of Canada’s closest neighbor.
The costume competition brings us a dazzling array of Canadian maple leaves and other extravaganza. The energy from the crowd is high as they cheer and boo for their favorite outfits. There is strong support for all the contestants, and a second round of cheering is needed to decide the outcome.
The winners are André and Evan, two Canadians who met tonight and decided at the last minute to join forces and compete as a team. André is a French Canadian proud of his Quebec-roots. He improvised his costume when he arrived tonight, making full use of the maple leaf napkins available to create an impressive skirt and top combo. Evan has come all the way from Sasebo today for tonight’s party, and is sporting low-key, elegant maple leaf tie. The two claim they will be back next year wearing lumberjack outfits and moose antlers, keen to outdo their performance this year.
The highlight of the night is the raffle draw, giving the audience the chance to win a return-ticket to Vancouver aboard China Airlines. The winner, Kazutaka Toyonaga, a university student, comes on stage to receive his ticket. He is in a dazed, clearly both shocked and delighted to have won. When asked how he feels, he is only able to get out the words “I’m very happy.” Micaela rightly notes, “You are the envy of everyone in this room tonight”. Luckily for the rest of the audience, this is not the only chance to win, as another draw will be held on Tuesday, July 1 for three bottles of Seagram Crown Royal – Canada’s finest whiskey!
The night ends on a patriotic note. Micaela calls all the Canadians in the room onto the stage and leads a rendition of the Canadian national anthem. When asked whether Canada Day ever makes her miss Canada, Micaela pauses for a moment and responds with a thoughtful grin, “Being able to throw a party like this and being able to give so many people a good night certainly makes me proud to be Canadian.”
As the party winds down, new friends exchange phone numbers before making their way home. For others, the night is still young, as they head over to the After Party at Two Dogs Sports Bar & Grill. Micaela rounds off the evening with the words on everyone’s lips, “We’ll see you next year!”
Lucky Draw Winning Numbers
>>>Grand Prize: Round Trip Airfare, Fukuoka/Vancouver on China Airlines
Special thanks to China Airlines for providing the free round trip airfare as the Luck Draw Grand Prize! Mr. Yu-Ping Tseng, Kyushu Manager, China Airlines, made the drawing and presented the award to Kazutaka Toyonaga! The flight to Vancouver is via Taipei, which is just 1 hour and 45 minutes from Fukuoka, closer than Narita. Visit China Airlines website for more information: http://www.china-airlines.com/en/index.html
Winner: Kazutaka Toyonaga (awarded on the night)