Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Discovering All Things Japan at JapanFest Atlanta

By Margaret Duncan, Ed.D.
Domo (NHK Mascot)

“Youkoso Nihon E.” Welcome to Japan!

Maneki-neko (Lucky Charm)
Every year JapanFest takes place in the northern suburbs of Atlanta.  This is a great festival that allows visitors to learn about all things Japan, from history to anime to culture to cuisine.  At JapanFest, visitors can really get a close up look at Japanese culture by sampling authentic Japanese food, playing games, viewing martial arts demonstrations, attending traditional performances and workshops.  Attendees can also buy plenty of items from collectables to art to nick-knacks to food to Anime.  As a parent of girls who love Anime (Japanese animation) and all things associated with Japanese culture, attending JapanFest has been an activity we look forward to each and every year.

 Murata Boy Bicycling Robot                                                

At its core, JapanFest is all about improving the understanding and appreciation between the Japanese people and Americans.  As such, the festival is a two day celebration that promotes multicultural education.  Indeed there are a number of stages and workshops that show off various aspects of the Japanese culture.  During the weekend, I had a chance to learn about Sake in Sake 101, learn about making sushi, learn the different aspects of Japanese cuisine from an award winning chef, and sample quite a bit of Japanese food and drinks. 

In order to showcase a variety of performing arts, JapanFest has several stages that offer a number of performances and demonstrations.  Attendees can view a Taiko Brum show.  Taiko Brum is a broad range of Japanese percussion instruments played as an ensemble. We also watched a Samurai show—and even learned to be a Samurai at a boot camp.  The various stages also hosted an acrobatic top spinning, jazz guitar and J-Pop performances.  J-Pop is the mixing of traditional Japanese music with foreign pop and rock music.  It can also have heavy Anime ties. We also had the chance to traditional archery, try on traditional dress (kimono) and paint a Hakata (traditional Japanese clay) doll.

                          J-Pop Performer Junko Fujiyama         Jazz Guitarist Hiroya Tsukamoto
JapanFest has always had an anime element with vendors and a video room.  Initially, this is why we started attending the festival years ago.  However, this year the festival partnered with MomoCon, the fastest-growing anime convention in the country, to create an Anime Village. Within the village you could shop for all types of anime products, Japanese snacks and drinks.  Visitors could even play a variety of Japanese video games and/or participate in a number of cosplay events.  The Anime video room was expanded and not only offered a lot of anime to watch, but there was also trivia contests with giveaways. 

Re-Discover Japan Street & Celebration
The addition of the Anime Village allowed for visitors to be spread out over more area.  No doubt the festival was still congested in areas but it was manageable.  The village also allowed for new vendors in the exhibit hall.  New this year was a Re-Discover Japan Street.  This area allowed for several Japanese cities and traditional arts to be showcased. Overall, there was such a variety at the festival that there was plenty to do for all visitors, no matter the age or interest!

1 comment:

  1. I went to this place in first time with my husband on Tuesday night after work. The inside of event space NYC was quit big and had enough seats to sit and nice bar area. We had a few things, along with drinks and it was all good!