Vietnamese Expats Celebrate Tet Holiday in Japan

The Vietnamese community in Japan was buzzing with excitement as they readied themselves for the grand celebration of Tet Holiday. They were eagerly planning spring trips and eagerly looking forward to indulging in the delectable delights of their homeland at Vietnamese culinary fairs.

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Nearly 100 people celebrated Tet away from home together

The Vietnamese community in the Kasai area (Edogawa district, Japan) organized a Tet program on the afternoon of February 11, which was attended by nearly 100 people. Both adults and children dressed in traditional Ao Dai, creating a lively and festive atmosphere.

The Tet Holiday program of the Vietnamese community in the Kasai area. (Photo: Doan Sy Long)

Phuong Nga, a 44-year-old who has studied and worked in Japan for 22 years, proposed the idea of organizing a community Tet for Vietnamese people in Kasai. Due to her busy work schedule, she hadn’t been able to return to Vietnam to celebrate the Lunar New Year in previous years, except for one time. She emphasized the importance of creating opportunities and spaces for children to experience Vietnamese culture, including cultural exchange and speaking Vietnamese on special occasions like Lunar New Year to ensure they stay connected to their roots. The traditional Tet activities were also a way for the overseas community to feel united in a foreign land,” Nga said.

Children showcasing their Vietnamese singing skills in a spring celebration performance program. (Photo: Doan Sy Long)

After planning the event and determining the number of participants, the group formed various committees to handle different tasks. The stage decoration department meticulously crafted models of traditional Vietnamese Banh Chung (sticky rice cake wrapped in banana leaves) and fireworks. They also prepared five-fruit trays and lucky money gifts for the children.

“Despite being amateurs, we gave our best effort to ensure a fantastic celebration for everyone,” Nga proudly remarked.

Kasai hamlet, the commonly used term for the Vietnamese community in this area, is dedicated to preserving Vietnamese culture for future generations. Families with children in the hamlet actively engage in activities like reading Vietnamese stories, organizing Vietnamese language classes for children, and hosting events such as marathons, the Mid-Autumn Festival, and Christmas celebrations.

Traveling in the first days of the new year

Food fairs are always a hub of Vietnamese community activity during Tet holidays. These fairs offer a wide range of traditional Vietnamese dishes such as Banh Chung (sticky rice cake), fried spring rolls, and Banh Xeo (Vietnamese crepes). The joy of relishing authentic Vietnamese food provides a sense of belonging and connection for the overseas Vietnamese community.

Food fairs are always the place where the Vietnamese community gathers every Tet holiday. (Photo: Hoang Mai)

Nguyen Hoang Mai, a female writer who has been living and working in Tokyo, Japan, for an extended period of time, makes it a priority to visit Vietnamese food stalls every year despite her busy work schedule.

“At these food fairs, one can find a wide assortment of traditional Vietnamese dishes. Coming together with the Vietnamese community to enjoy these delicacies offers an opportunity to reconnect and meet each other after a year of hard work,” Mai shared.

A tantalizing array of traditional Vietnamese foods at the fair. (Photo: Hoang Mai)

Cherry blossom viewing is an annual springtime activity for the Vietnamese community in Japan. Nishihirabatake Park, located in Masuda Town, Kanagawa, offers a picturesque display of cherry blossoms which typically bloom early in February.

During the transition from winter to spring, visitors can marvel at hundreds of peach trees blossoming in a charming shade of pink. Besides the early cherry blossoms, the park also provides stunning views of Mount Fuji and Sagami Bay.

Charlotte Pho