Welcome to Japanfest
One of my daughters is taking Japanese in middle school this year. Although we’d been before, she wanted to make the trek up to Gwinnett Center to attend this year’s Japanfest the weekend of September 20. This was made more appealing by the two free tickets her teacher gave us.
My favorite performance of the two-day event is Matsurizo Taiko, a professional ensemble of Japanese drummers that regularly perform at Epcot. As we made our way to the auditorium, the usher said,”I’m sorry. It’s too crowded for you to enter.” No, this can’t be happening, I thought to myself. We still had a few minutes before the show was to start. However as more people came behind us and expressed disapointment, he shrugged his shoulders and let everybody in. “You have to stand up and there’s no security,” he warned. Inside the dark auditorium, we could feel (before we could hear), the constant boom, boom.boom of the large drums. Despite not having seats, the performance was captivating as the 14 men and women kept us entertained.
Afterwards, we went to find food. This year, two vendors were outside. We chose the Yakitori chicken skewers from Nakato. As we waited, we watched the restaurant workers grill the chicken already on skewers. Finally, they were ready and tasted great – chicken with some sort of teriyaki sauce – but better. As we wanted more food, we found the main dining area with lots of choices. Since my daughter loves fried rice, we went to Kani House and had fried rice, spring rolls and water. Afterwards, we stopped at Jolie-Kobie bakery for a white chocolate and cranberry cookie, which was worth every single bite.
Perusing the many vendor booths, we saw these beautiful women dressed in beautiful Japanese clothing advertising Okinawa. “I remember about learning about that place in school,” my daughter said. We stopped and took their picture. Then she saw several vendors selling Pokemon plush toys. After purchasing one from her allowance money, she and I walked around the rest of the exhibition space.
My daughter’s favorite exhibit was the theatre dedicated to Japanese cartoons and film. We watched half of an episode of some Pokemon-type cartoon with English subtitles before heading over to the bonsai tree exhibit and my favorite – Ikebana, Japanese floral arrangements. Along the way, we stopped in several ballrooms and watched martial arts performances and an elementary school drumming performance. I’d forgotten how fun this festival can be. More info can be found at https://japanfest.org.
Ikebana floral arrangements