The AnimeChicago board would like to extend a massive thank you to the steering committee for inviting us to Japan Festival 2018, and special thanks to AnimeChicago member Natsue for facilitating our participation! This celebration took place on June 2nd 3rd at Forest View Educational Center in Arlington Heights. Here’s a recap of my experience.
Thanks to everyone who stopped at our table and played Anime Advice Bot! Our new attraction consists of a tablet with a self-guided quiz and a cabinet of 75 drawers. Visitors answer questions and the bot instructs them to open a drawer. Each drawer contains slips of paper suggesting what anime to watch next. It was a hit! This concept will definitely make the rounds at other festivities, so stay tuned.
Japan Fest hosts a nice variety of art demonstrations such as calligraphy, artist goods for sale, and local businesses. While it’s not as robust as your typical vendor room at a large con, there was plenty to peruse if you’re visiting for 3-4 hours. There also were many children with painted faces and prizes from gallery games, so there are extra bonus activities tailored for family outing.
Having watched Showa Genroku Rakugo Shinju, I was excited to hear that a real Rakugo performance in English was slated for Saturday evening. Katsura Sunshine put on a stellar performance with humor and charm, and I constantly chuckled at his deadpan delivery. I would recommend seeing a show of his if you want to experience rakugo for yourself.
The costume contest was a blast. The quality of craftsmanship was higher than you would typically see for a festival for this size. The emcee maintained the energy of the room, the contestants put on a great show, and Moz performed some anime songs while the judges tallied their scores. Congrats to all the winners!
Martial arts demonstrations and choreographed dances occurred throughout the weekend. Unfortunately, managing the booth meant I didn’t get to see any of this content. Maybe next year.
$8 bento lunch was such a great deal… if only I could eat this every week! We also savored the yakitori skewers and some snow cones. The lines were nearly 20-minutes long, but food booths open up at 11:30 am and are practically empty at that time.
Being close to the hub of Japanese community in Chicagoland is a big plus for post-festival plans. We dropped by both Mitsuwa and Sushi Station for snacks and dinner.
If you were on the fence and didn’t attend this year, definitely make plans to drop by in 2019. It’s a nice afternoon of family-friendly entertainment that supports and publicizes Chicago-based Japanese communities and initiatives. We look forward to supporting the event again next year!