The 24th annual Japan Festival Houston was held on May 6-7, 2017. Blue skies, warm sunshine and colorful koinobori welcomed over 20,000 visitors to Hermann Park and Houston’s Japanese Gardens for a special celebration of Japan’s National Children’s Day holiday.
The always-family-friendly event featured over 60 new and returning vendors that promoted Japan through authentic food, arts and crafts, merchandise, exhibits and demonstrations, and special “make-and-take” activities for kids.
Festivalgoers shopped for anime goods, handcrafted jewelry, and antique kimonos; sampled takoyaki, Milk Bread, kakigori, and Fuji-san cookies; tried their hand at kingyo tsukui, kabuto origami folding, koinobori bag making, and taiko; and experienced the art of Japanese tea, Japanese flower arranging, bonsai, various martial arts, and mikoshi. They even had the opportunity to meet a JAXA astronaut and to play the role of royalty in a Ryukyu Kingdom Imperial Parade.
Newcomers to the festival included Kendama USA, whose representatives shared their skills and gave away a number of kendamas. Hakutsuru also joined the festival to give Houstonians a sampling of sake from nigori to daiginjo. Glico provided Pejoy to guests through a dice roll game. And a special appearance by TV Tokyo’s “Who Wants to Come to Japan” program provided Houstonians with the chance to score a trip to Japan.
Other opportunities for travel to Japan were made possible by ANA through the “Show Your Heart for Japan Festival” campaign and the ever-popular Japan Festival Cosplay Contest.
While the activities were plentiful, one of the biggest draws of the festival was the entertainment. In keeping with this year’s theme, the Gulf States Toyota Waterfront Stage featured kagura dance and storytelling by Florida-based artist Surapsari. Young talent from Japan was also showcased through the performances of hip-hop dance and singing group Jr. Exile of Japan’s talent development program Project TARO.
Owing to the support of the community, Japan Festival proudly remains FREE and open to the public. To our sponsors and partners, vendors and volunteers, performers and participants, families and friends, we thank you for another wonderful year. Special gratitude goes to the 2017 Japan Festival Sponsors: Japan Business Association of Houston, Gulf States Toyota, Kuraray America, Inc., Sumitomo Corporation of Americas, JGC America, Inc., and ComputerDojo, among others.