A Cultural Phenomenon That You Don’t Want to Miss
I cannot express to you enough how overjoyed and delighted I am to share my cultural experiences from Japanfest 2017 with you! This was my third year attending this cultural festival, and I have to say that it never disappoints. This has become an annual tradition for my youngest daughter and I. For my daughter and I, it all began with an email from our ELL teacher asking if anyone was interested. The ELL teacher at my school is able to secure free tickets for any teachers or students that would like to attend this event. I hadn’t even heard of Japanfest before. But, I thought, “Why not”! I didn’t know what to expect, but I have to tell you that I was not disappointed…. Actually, I take that back. I was disappointed! I was disappointed that I had to leave that afternoon, and that I would have to wait another year to experience it all over again. Yes, the experience was that amazing! The energy is palpitating and contagious!
It is amazing to see all of the people that attend this event. From infants to grandparents, and from a multitude of ethnicities, you can find a variety of people in attendance. Think of the United Colors of Benetton and you will have a visual of the beautiful blend of races and cultures that you will interact with. Some are dressed in beautiful kimonos; some with the wooden sandals and some in “everyday” shoes. Others are dressed in Anime. Some are dressed in martial arts-style clothing. Others, (myself included) are dressed casually and for comfort. I have to admit that the Anime throws me off sometimes. I am fascinated by the way that people are die-hard- devoted to this artistry, but I haven’t quite caught on to the “what about it” that inspires people. The artistry of the animation is beautiful. The stories and the messages behind them… I’ m not so sure. But it is art; it’s expressive and it is beloved by many. That’s just it! The beauty of this festival is that it allows people to express themselves freely in a safe and accepting environment.
What can you expect to see?? Honestly,…. EVERYTHING! Think of a cultural feast for the soul. Not just amazing costumes, but gorgeously ornate kimonos, origami displays, bonsai displays, martial arts exhibits, Taiko drumming exhibits, sword exhibits, archery, musical performances, and so much more. The food is authentic and splendid. This year, we stood in line for close to an hour. No, you read that correctly. It was almost an hour. We learned that it took 20 minutes to cook each batch of the food that we were waiting for, so we had to wait longer. It was hot and fresh, and certainly worth the wait. We ate Sutadon bowls with rice and thin strips of pork. I am not necessarily a huge pork eater, but I am willing to give most anything a try. I love experiencing new foods and I wanted to dive head-first into this cultural experience. I can tell you with resounding joy that it was worth the wait, and that it was positively delicious! They have local stores in a handful of states, but sadly, not in Georgia.
My absolutely favorite exhibition is the Taiko Drum performance by . They are actually located in Orlando, Florida! So, if you are ever in that area on vacation, I strongly urge you to look them up and attend a session. I hope that you will feel the same delight that I did. I never tire of watching these talented individuals perform. There is also another group of drummers. I love watching this group because it is filled with women (many of them older women) that enjoy this artistry. There is one gentleman that plays a smaller drum that leads the tempo and style of rhythm. You can just tell that they love what they are doing, and it takes a lot of chutzpah to perform in front of a mass of strangers. They are inspiring! I am inserting a video excerpt from both of the performances below. Believe me, if I could share more with you, I would. I hope that you will love them, too!!
This sensory-stimulating outing with my daughter was spectacular, but what made it even more amazing was being able to share it with another young lady. One of my daughter’s friends from school heard that we were going and asked if she could come, too. Absolutely! I am so happy to share that she had a great experience and is going to encourage her parents to attend next year. I’m glad that I could provide a different cultural experience to another young person. As parents and/or educators, we can provide these opportunities to our students in organic and authentic ways just like this. Let parents know about upcoming events in your community- whether that be something as simple as a cultural day or activity at the local library, or a major, annual event like Japanfest. Children embrace what we teach them and what we expose them to. Give them exposure to other people, cultures, foods, arts, languages… everything! What well-rounded future adults we will help to cultivate!
To learn more about Japanfest, and to see how you can share this experience with your students, visit the Japanfest website.
Have you attended any cultural events lately? I would love to hear all about it! Leave a comment below.