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Japan Festival: Experiencing Every Inch of Japanese Culture

• The Japan Festival took place at the Forest View Educational Center in Arlington Heights on June 7 and 8, and attracted about 9,300 visitors. This year, The Chicago Japanese Club (CJC) and the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry (JCCC) co-hosted the event for the first time.
• The two-day event opened with the National Anthems of Japan and the U.S. sung by opera singer Lyle Nicholson. M.C. Danna Gerlich introduced guests of honor, Consul General of Japan and Mayor of Arlington Heights.

• In his remarks, Consul General Masaharu Yoshida said that the Japan Festival was co-hosted by CJC and JCCC and became an important milestone in the Midwest. He also said that the visitors would experience aspects of Japanese culture such as ikebana, origami, kendo, judo, and a J-pop concert by two performers from Japan.

• Mayor Thomas W. Hayes welcomed the Japanese community saying that the partnership between the two great countries and the two great communities was really educational. “I hope that all those different cultures and different nations work together toward a festival. I’m looking forward to learning more about Japanese culture, lifestyles, and other areas through the festival,” the mayor said.

• On the festival stage, 21 groups performed Japanese taiko drumming, classical dance, judo, kendo, karate, archery, koto music, piano and clarinet, chorus, and more. Ten Japanese companies introduced their products and services on the main floor. Tea ceremony, ikebana, and violin making were demonstrated. Documentary film “Tohoku Tomo” and anime films were screened, and a cosplay competition was held on the second day. More than 40 vendors offered craftworks, arts, folkcrafts, character goods, and games.

• Zachary Sebek’s T-shirt read “Tohoku Tomo.” He watched the documentary film and said, “I enjoyed it and learned more about the earthquake and recovery efforts. He came to the festival with his twin brother Jason and friend Isabelle Alonzo. They were the students of Whitney Young Magnet High School and have been taking Japanese courses at the school.
• Alonzo spoke in Japanese and said that she started to learn Japanese through Japanese songs when she was eight. She remembered a welcome reception of Kakehashi Project, which brought 20 students from Japan last March. The article is available at

• One of the most popular events was trying on kimono dresses and a suit of Japanese armor. The visitors picked their favorite color of kimono, and professional dressers dressed them quickly.

• Yuki was happily smiling with a kimono and said that she has studied Japanese in high school and college. She also studied it by herself. She said that wearing kimono was comfortable because her back was straightened.

• Christopher Wogniczka was walking around in a men’s kimono and said, “It’s my first time and is very interesting. I like it.” He took Japanese courses for two semesters in high school, and has many opportunities in recent years to work with Japanese sales people and engineers in his job.

• Jessica and Katie were each in a beautiful kimono. Jessica said that she was interested in wearing kimono and has been studying Japanese. They have enjoyed cosplay since last year and attended Anime Central last month.

• In the courtyard, four different flavors of ramen noodles were served, and the visitors flocked to taste some of them. They had a few complaints for long lines.
• A group of people in a long line for ramen said, “We ate at Misoya before and are looking for some ramen noodles. I know my friend really loves miso ramen, so we decided to get it.”
• The friend said that five dollars for a bowl of ramen was good price, so her daughter could try it.

• On the Saturday evening, more than 1,200 visitors were excited to attend J-pop concert performed by beat boxer Daichi and anime-song singer Ayane.

• Daichi can make more than 50 different sounds using his voice, playing the rhythm beat, and singing a melody at the same time. He won the “Remix Round” of the Apollo Theater in New York in 2012. He became the champion two weeks in a row and got third place in the final championship. He posted his beatbox video on YouTube five years ago and has gained more than 23 million views from all over the world.

• Ayane made her debut with a single Kizuna, and it was selected as the opening theme song for TV anime “W Wish.” Her 5th single “Nageki no Mori” was chosen as the opening theme to PlayStation 2. She has built her status as anime/game singer. In 2008, her song “Lunatic Tears” won her the Golden Award for Theme Song Award of Bishoujo Game Awards. To celebrate her 10th anniversary, she has released the 4th album “Luminous Flux”.

Daichi Interview

• Q: How can you make 50 different sounds from your mouth?
• Daichi: Well, trumpet sound for instance, a knack is how you bring your voice closer to the real sound. You can say, “hu hu,” in a falsetto, and push it like, “hu! hu!”. Trumpet has a little rubbing sound, so you can release “hu! hu!” from your side of lips. I always listen to a sound and find a way to reproduce it by trial and error.

Ayane Interview

• Q: Your and Daichi’s collaboration is available at How did you make it?
• Ayane: Before coming to Chicago, I met him for the first time and performed “A Cruel Angel's Thesis” together. It was recorded and upped on the site. Actually, the Japan Festival brought us together to collaborate. This is the second time for me to meet him.

The full story is available in the Chicago Shimpo’s 2014, June 27th issue.

Daichi and Ayane perform at Japan Festival
Violin maker Tetsuo Matsuda

Corporate exhibit, Ark Technologies and Altak

Corporate exhibit, ANA

Corporate exhibit, Sunstar Americas

Corporate exhibit, United

Daichi in an interview

Ayane speaks about her an interview.

Jessica(R) and Katie in kimono dresses

Koto group

A visitor tries on samurai armore suites.

Tea ceremony demonstration

Zachary Sebek (R), Isabelle Alonzo, and Jason Sebek

The visitors flock around ramen booths.

The visitors enjoy shopping at vender booths.

Christopher Wogniczka enjoys wearing men’s kimono.