Well this was a nice surprise two hours before bed the night before. To be honest, I totally forgot this was coming up. It was a nice email from the Sakura-con people that informed me of it. Thank you, guys. Without that I wouldn't of known that I had an all day event to all of a sudden get to in the morning. Good thing I know how to plan for something at the drop of a hat or I would of missed something grand.
Dragon Fest is the annual summer Asian festival in Seattle's historic International District. This two day event features performers, crafts, vendors, and food. A slue of people was there for this free to the public event. Which made thing nice and lively the whole time I was there. Let me tell you about it.
Now this is a multi-cultural festival that had Chinese, Taiwanese, Vietnamese, Japanese, and the like. What I will be focusing on will just be the Japanese parts of the festival. Since, well, you know, we are Japanator and all. Anyways, I'm going to break up this post in each of the things that I saw or experienced. Easy formatting is always nice. (Note: I didn't have anything to write with so I don't have names people or what the performances names are. Sorry.)
Kabuki: Not too often do you get to see some Kabuki. It's something that, personally, I would love to see more of. We start off with the director of the Kabuki Academy, Mary Mariko Ohno, doing a solo dance performance. It was a beautiful dance to start off with. Then we were in for a treat with one of the male performers in full geisha attire dancing a solo number. This guy was mesmerizing! I'm not sure how long he has been doing this but it was very well done none the less. Next up, we have seven performers playing the naga-uta shamisen. After some minor sound problem, we were off to hear some wonderful music. To finish, we have a three person performance with Ms. Ohno, the male geisha, and another female. This time they used fans to dance with at first. Then moved on to another type of fan with some cloth on it to make trails. Again, I haven't gotten to see much Kabuki in my life so far and it saddens me that I don't know more about it. The Kabuki Academy did a wonderful overall job that I would gladly see again given the chance.
Taiko: What's a festival without taiko? Not a very good one in my book. Luck for us, there was taiko there to make it a real festival. The Kaze Daiko youth group was on hand to drum up the enthusiasm. You could tell that these kids were nervous on the mic, tripping over some of their words here and there. Also during the performance, some of them slightly lost their place in certain parts of songs. Did that slow them down? Not one bit. They played their hearts out for sure. Even in between songs they changed out quickly. You could hear them out of breath on the mic when it was time to introduce the next song. The top thing that tickled me was to see the director/instructor Stan Shikuma's proud face as he watched his pupils play with everything they had. It's the little things that I notice sometime that make the biggest impact on me. That was one of them.
Cosplay Contest: The contest, hosted by Sakura-con, was a pretty straight forward cosplay competition. All the contestants had a number, came out and spun around in front of the three judges, and then a winner was picked. In a nutshell, this is about it for what it was. There was some pretty nice cosplay there overall. The judges were looking for creativity, craftsmanship, and overall quality. Most, I believe, were hand made except for the ninja that said he bought it from a magical man called Amazon. The contestants had up to a minute to show off their cosplay, but most of them took only about ten seconds. It was hard getting shots of them from where I was at. Luckily, after it was over I was able to catch some of them to get some better shots in. A lot ran away after it was over which was a shame.
Food: There were tons of places to get food here. On the street there were vendors in tents to food trucks all over the place where the stage was. Most of what was there was of Asian or Asian inspired. Tokyo Dog was one that comes to mind that was a Asian inspired food truck. The hot dogs they had were local Bavarian hot dog and the toppings they had were very Japanese from bonito flakes to okonomiyaki sauce. Unfortunately, I did not try these as I so wanted to. Instead I got their french fries with nori and sea salt with a wasabi mayo dipping sauce. It...it was magic. Everything blended wonderfully together which I believe could be drummed up to the nori and sea salt combo. The wasabi mayo was the knockout blow. We had other normal food that you think of like takoyaki, Japanese style beer garden, and shaved ice just to name a few. Along with all this, there was a $2 food walk where restaurants in the area had food for $2 for you to try. Later on, after 4pm, the $2 happy hour walk was happening at some of the local watering holes. Needless to say, I missed almost all of this. I'm ashamed.
Vendors: Not a whole lot of these grabbed my attention at the festival. They never really do because from the jewelry to the clothes to the art pieces, I really don't care for most of it. I know others do but for me not so much. There was one or two booths that did grab my attention thou. These were the sushi pillow booth and the onigiri pillow booth. These were just adorable. I would of probably bought them out and lined my house with them, but thank goodness I'm broke already. Other then that, there wasn't much else unless I wanted to change my cable provider.
Overall: For the seven hours I was there, I had a great time. It was wonderful seeing everyone having a great time and eating food. One thing I forgot to bring up was that Nico Nico was there broadcasting live. They were doing interviews and showcasing the performances live. I would whole heartily recommend going if you have the chance. Again, it's a free outdoor event so there is not much to loose except your money to all the delicious food. The only other thing I can say is that it was great that it didn't rain that day. It tried to a bit but failed. I just still wished I would of wore some sunscreen because I did get a little burnt being out there so long. Nah who am I kidding, worth it!
For anyone that wants, I am including links to all my pictures that I took in high resolution zipped up. You are free to use them however you wish. Call it a gift.
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