CALBOX-0619-summerfestival-ART3Celebrating culture and community through food, music, martial arts demonstrations and even a donut-eating contest, the Venice Japanese Community Center (VJCC) marks the beginning of the season with its annual Natsu Matsuri, or Summer Festival.

The weekend-long family-friendly celebration runs from noon to 10 p.m. Saturday and 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday at VJCC, 12448 Braddock Drive in Del Rey.

The VJCC was founded in 1921 to assist what was then a growing local Japanese-American farming community. Currently home to 30 clubs, the site served as a relocation center for displaced Japanese-Americans returning from internment camps after World War II.

The local Natsu Matsuri includes bonsai and ikebana exhibits, nightly Ondo dancing and taiko drumming alongside food booths and judo, aikido, kendo and karate demonstrations.

The VJCC’s Young Adult Club, formed to preserve cultural ties among an aging and dispersing West L.A. Japanese-American community, hosts its second annual donut eating contest at 7 p.m. Saturday.

Call (310) 822-8885 or visit

— Michael Aushenker