Sunday at the Japanese Bazaar

I spent today doing what I love to do – going to a charity bazaar. I had invited a couple of friends to come with me but in the end, everyone had their own plans. So I did the next best thing – grabbed my husband and off we went to the annual Sakura Charity Festival, organised by the Penang Japanese Association Women’s Club at Traders Hotel (formerly Shangri-la Penang) this morning.
I thought I was early – it was only 11am but the crowd was huge! There’s something about Penangites and bazaars – we love good deals and we love sales and bazaars and we won’t mind jostling for the best buys.

The crowd was so big that the ticket counter had run out of printed tickets and so we had to settle for this cartoon character stamped on a circle of sticker! Tickets going at RM5 as well as the day’s proceeds were going to charity so everyone in Georgetown probably came for a nosy look-see!

Japanese people are known for their detailed handicrafts and lovely fabrics and that’s what we the excited and anxious crowd got. Lovely handmade cards, kawaii little fabric pouches and totes, gorgeous quilts and wall hangings, watercolour art pieces, homemade snacks, swavarowski crystal rings and trinkets, kimonos, crocheted bears, table runners, edgings and doilies, origami boxes – everything Japanese was on sale. It got to a point where I had to force myself through the masses of folks if I wanted to peer closer at the items for sale.

In the end, I bought some handmade cards and a piece of watercolour painting by this artist called Shimizu-san. The other interesting things going on were a Japanese tea ceremony (Sado-bu Urasenke) and an Ikebana demo and Ikebana flower arrangements exhibition. A little corner was cordoned off as a mini cafe for drinks and snacks. All the food seemed to be sold out!

The bazaar wasn’t the only highlight. In the next room was the jumble sale of secondhand goods like clothing and electrical items. Naturally all the electrical items were already gone when we got there.

The clothing were cheap, all were around RM1. But one had to rummage and pick and choose. I initially thought I didn’t have anything in mind but a roomful of enthusiastic women poking around mountains of clothes can be mesmerising. Soon I too joined and started rummaging. I wasn’t looking for clothes but more for fabrics which were colourful and unique (this being castoffs of Japanese, I was sure I could find some eclectic stuff!).
I wasn’t wrong – I found 3 dresses which if I could not wear, could be transformed into something usable such as a bag or a skirt. Even Nic found himself with two silk Zegna ties! All going for RM1 each. He said he was lucky he grabbed the two ties first because one Chinese guy came later and grabbed the rest of the ties!

Anyhow, it was a good day at the bazaar for me. I had found what I wanted and left feeling contented that it was a Sunday well-spent!
Oh by the way, we Malaysians are welcome to become members of the Penang Japanese Consulate’s Japanese Library or J-Library. I have yet to go over there to check it out (though I should do it one of these days) – it’s located on Level 28, Menara BHL (Jalan Sultan Ahmad Shah).
Apparently they have a selection of videos, books, magazines and Japanese language learning materials which the public can borrow. According to a good friend, the consulate people are friendly too. Learn more about the J-Library at

And yes, J-Library membership is FREE. Japanese being Japanese, they are so efficient that you can even download the J-Library membership form from their website. But should you return the borrowed items late, points are deducted! When your points become zero (you start with 20), your membership is terminated.

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