On April 18 and 19, the 22nd Japan Festival in Houston was held near the Japan Garden in Hermann Park. The festival, which was organized by Japan Festival Inc. and attracts over 25,000 people participated and enjoyed the traditional Japanese summer festival atmosphere and experienced many elements of Japanese culture under this year’s theme “Education through Authenticity” demonstrates, people could
There were vendors for Japanese food and goods, places to enjoy Ikebana displays and tea ceremony and a stage for Japanese martial arts demonstrations. Performances at the main stage showed the variety of Japanese culture from the traditional, such as drum performance and Soran-bushi (traditional folk song), to the modern, such as a cosplay contest.
The Consulate General of Japan and Japan Festival Inc. co-sponsored a performance by Bunraku Bay Puppet Troupe directed by University of Missouri Professor Martin Holman. About 300 people each day enjoyed and applauded the Bunraku performance which consists of the Ningyōzukai (puppeteers), the Tayū (chanters) and shamisen musicians. The Consulate also had a booth at the festival where people enjoyed Ukiyoe (woodblock print), Origami and Bookmark making as well as Japan-related pamphlets.
Consul General Nozomu Takaoka delivered remarks at the Opening Ceremony on April 18 and hoped that people can enjoy Japanese culture through the variety of vendors and stage performers (link). Mr. Justin Cooper, President of Japan Festival Inc., which was newly established to lead the organization of the festival, commended Japan America Society in Houston, Japan Business Association, Japanese American Citizen League, Japanese Association of Greater Houston and others for their cooperation and hoped that more US citizens can experience Japanese culture than in the past. At the end of the opening ceremony, Consul General Takaoka, President Cooper and representatives of the above organizations broke open a ceremonial sake barrel.
Japan America Society in Houston, Japan Business Association and Japanese Association of Greater Houston presented donations to Hermann Park Conservancy for maintaining the Japan Garden in thanks for allowing the festival at Hermann Park. This year, ANA, JAL, Asahi Beer, Home Dialysis, Kuraray, Sumito Corp., Computer Dojo, Toyota, Green Mountain Energy, JX, Kaneka, Mitsubishi Corp., Toshiba, Yokogawa, International Marine Products, Little Soya, NOLTEX, Mitsui. & Co., Cole Chemical, Mr. Glen Gondo also donated to the festival.
On April 17, Japan Festival in Houston Underwriter Reception for sponsors and supporters was held at Japan America Society in Houston by Japan Festival Inc. The Consulate General of Japan in Houston sponsored the reception and offered sake and sushi. Consul General Nozomu Takaoka praised Mr. Cooper’s leadership and commended community and corporate support for ensuring the longevity of this wonderful event (link).