Sakura Helping Hands shares Japanese culture at Oktoberfest


A group of Japanese women have been working hard getting ready for Seymour’s biggest annual event.

Sakura Helping Hands is celebrating its 27th year at the Seymour Oktoberfest.

"We were looking for the opportunity to get close with people in Seymour, and we wanted to do something for the Seymour community to show our appreciation," Akiko Yasui said of how the group got started.

There are about 30 women in the club, which works year-round to make handmade Japanese arts and crafts to sell at the festival.

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Their booth is located on the corner of Chestnut and Third streets near city hall and is open from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday.

The women are the wives of expatriates who work at Japanese businesses in Seymour, including Aisin and Nippon Steel, so some are continuous members and others are new every year.

Almost all members start out as beginners when it comes to making arts and crafts.

Most years, they raise around $2,500.

The women donate all of the proceeds from their booth to different entities in the community, such as the Jackson County Public Library, Seymour Parks and Recreation Department, Seymour Community School Corp., Read Jackson County and Schneck Medical Center.

This year, they will have more than 1,000 items for sale. Prices range from just $1 to $50 for more detailed and time-consuming pieces.

The group doesn’t have an overall theme for their items or booth. The members just want people to stop by to learn more and take a little piece of Japan home with them.

Some of their favorite items to make include origami paper balls and fabric flowers.

"They are Japanese traditional items," Kimie Kawasumi said.

New this year are origami wreaths, lucky stars, potluck bags and miniature dollhouses.

It makes them feel good to know people appreciate the craftsmanship that goes into all of the items.

"We enjoy the opportunity to share our traditional handmade crafts with our friends and neighbors," Hitomi Harano said. "We just want to share our Japanese culture."

Japan has festivals in the summer that are similar to Oktoberfest in the sense they bring the community together in celebration.

"Summer festivals are organized by the local neighborhood team and held in community parks or school grounds," Satsuki Nishiwaki said. "There are stands that sell everything from food to fun games that children and parents can enjoy. The main attractions are bon-odori (dance) and firework shows."

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What: Sakura Helping Hands Oktoberfest arts and crafts booth

When: 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Oct. 3 through 5

Where: Corner of Chestnut and Third streets near Seymour City Hall

Proceeds benefit various local causes, including Seymour Community School Corp., Jackson County Public Library, Read Jackson County, Schneck Medical Center and Seymour Parks and Recreation Department.


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