This year’s Japan Fair 2011 at the OC Fairgrounds was quite the experience. Being the first of two shows (the second one being in San Diego two months from now), it really set the standard for what I hope will be a another great festival next year. And if the girl’s playful gesture in the photo above doesn’t convince you enough of how much fun the fair was, then I don’t know what will!
More photos and festival notes after the jump…
Food, dance, music, laughter, culture! All of the above and more were on display at this year’s Japan Festival, held from 10am to 7pm on Saturday, September 10 at the OC Fairgrounds. I was at the first half of the festival to see, eat, and listen to what I could before heading to Los Angeles for a reunion of friends. Among the festivities were various stage performances and activities, including the above display of Awa Odori by fellow festival performers and attendees unafraid to learn the joyous dance. I had my hands full with some piping hot takoyaki, so I did not participate; I sure wouldn’t mind trying next time, though!
Speaking of takoyaki, this is the special Mentai-Mayo type with green onions and bonito flakes sprinkled on top. A fellow food vendor staff member was kind enough to hold my freshly prepared dish! The mentai-mayo sauce adds a very subtle bite to the takoyaki pieces and adds a little more flavor to the already steaming hot delicacies. I burned my tongue quite a few times from eating these too fast.
In addition to the Awa Odori performances were the delightfully traditional sounds of Okinawa folk music. I posted a tweet about the type of music it reminded me of, and I mentioned how it sounded similar to traditional Hawaiian music. It shouldn’t be surprising given how the geography of both regions are based around small islands; yet many miles apart from each other and their musical influences still seem to mirror each other in more ways than one.
More displays of music and dance became apparent as the day went on, particularly in the case of this photo of a traditional street parade to the beat of taiko drums and cymbal crashes. They were being led by the small group of children in the front that held up beams connecting the wagon/shrine containing the drums and lamps. They made quite a few rounds around the aisles of fair vendors before their finish roughly a half-hour later.
The booths themselves showcased a variety of goods, services, and games for attendees to take advantage of. This particular vendor was offering calligraphy art of an attendee’s name upon request.
What Japanese culture festival (at least on this side of the world and in this particular state) is complete without some cars on display? Unfortunately, this is the only photo I was able to snap of the Custom Car Show segment of the day, but at least it was impressive. The only thing the place was missing was the itasha cars! That is, unless there were some inside the hangar and I just missed them.
There was also some nice cross-marketing between booths, such as this amusing display of sumo dolls resting comfortably in their Styrofoam bowls on top of a fish scooping pool, or this snazzy double-sumo breast pocket tuck for the dressier male.
I also had an opportunity to snap a photo with some fellow figure and doll collectors as well! Pictured from left to right are Ricky, Elie, me, and Anthony. Can’t see the figures too well in the photo above? Well, you can see them better here:
The last time I had my Konata Shrine Maiden + Camera nendoroid with me at an event was during this year’s Comic-Con, so I’m glad that we were able to show off some other companions this time around. That doll is really detailed!
The Japan Cup also ran in conjunction with the Japan Fair and took up the upper-end of the show. Lots of Japanese-body RC cars, both high-speed and drift, made their rounds around the makeshift tracks. Beyond the miniature realism of the car subculture, I really found the above photo of a father dressed in a Honda driver/pit-crew uniform really awesome. What other driver/pit-crew father steadies his child’s stroller while being accompanied by his wife dressed in a kimono? You sure don’t see that everyday.
Among the RC cars showing off was this little drift car in the style of an ’86 Toyota Corolla Sprinter Trueno. I think it’s a nice little throwback of a photo to an old friend that helped introduce me to the world of drifting in the first place!
Here’s a photo of my newly acquired goldfish! Anthony won two of them for trying his luck at one of the scooper booths and decided to give one to me. Thanks, Anthony! Now I just need to upgrade my current fish bowl to a nicer looking one that fits the design and feel of my desk better.
All in all, this year’s Japan Fair was a fantastic event filled with many things someone with any amount of appreciation for the Japanese culture would enjoy. There are enough games, food, music, dance, and goodies to go around for a few hours, and there are many opportunities to learn about local services like language classes and restaurants you can experience and take advantage of long after the fair makes its second and final appearance in San Diego two months from now. I found the most joy in more of the traditional and cultural aspects of the show, including the Awa Odori and the street parade. Even Arthur Nakane made a cameo appearance!
And if you plan on doing some shopping, or are just really lucky with festival games, then be prepared to carry loads of goods back home! Go-green shopping bags may be of some use here. =)
For the entire set of photos I took of the Japan Fair, please visit my flickr photo set page.