of Japanese of Food, Drink & Culture Sweeps Chicago North Side During
2nd Chicago Japanese Matsuri
• The 2nd Kizuki Chicago Japanese Matsuri, a celebration of Japanese culture
with authentic Japanese food and drink, was co-hosted by Kizuki Ramen
& Izakaya and the Japanese Culture Center (“JCC”) in Chicago’s North
Side from September 20 to 22.
• Visitors from Chicagoland and beyond packed the spacious NEWCITY Plaza,
the 9,300 sq. ft. indoor & outdoor venue in the heart of Lincoln Park.
Having grown in size from last year, the event featured over 30 vendors
offering colorful Japanese products and services.
• All the food was provided by the Kizuki restaurant
in the Lincoln Park neighborhood, including chicken karaage, takoyaki,
edamame, gyoza, potato croquette, cold noodles and Japanese chicken wings,
with drinks such as Kirin Ichiban beer, Rishi Tea and Maccha green tea.
• On the outdoor stage, performances attracted visitors
throughout the day each day. The programs included martial arts demonstrations,
cosplay contest, taiko drum and koto performances, calligraphy demonstration,
swordsmanship demonstration, comedy show, shuriken demonstration, contemporary
Japanese music, ramen eating contest and Japanese street fashion show.
• The Consulate-General of Japan in Chicago offered dressing in Japanese
armor, while Japanese cosmetics maker Shiseido and the leading toilet
manufacturer TOTO presented their products.
• Inside the NEWCITY building was the “Drink World,”
a space full of beverage vendors including whiskey maker Suntory, Japanese
sake brewers such as Rihaku, Imada, Shiokawa and Mioya, Shochu maker Mesh
and Bone and Filipino rum maker Tanduay Rum. Local Chicago brewer Forbidden
Root showcased a “Matsuri” brew, created exclusively for the festival.
• The second-floor space housed the “retail World,” featuring a variety
of local Japanese retailers such as Uniqlo and Kinokuniya book store.
The Japan America Society of Chicago was also there, distributing brochures
and flyers to inform about its activities.
• The event was free and open to the public, with food
and drink tickets available for purchase. All the profit from these tickets
was donated to the JCC and Japanese Arts Foundation.
• The JCC’s Lakeview facility has been the venue to offer a variety of
classes and presentations of Japanese culture. Donation to the JCC from
the festival will be used for the improvement and expansion of its facilities,
such as a new gallery, performance space, study programs, public programs
• On the evening of the first day of the Festival, the
Kizuki restaurant invited the local Japanese and Japanese-American community
members to a gala event.
• Calligrapher Hekiun Oda demonstrated two scroll writings consisting
of four kanji characters each: one that says “Ichigo Ichie” (“One opportunity,
one encounter”); and the other saying “Keiten Aijin” (“Respect Heaven,
love people”). The former was to be presented to Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot,
and the latter to Illinois Governor J.B. Pritzker.
• The koto and flute performance by Tokiko Kimura and Erina Koyasu entertained
the attendees, and four varieties of ramen (tonkotsu, shoyu, yuzu and
miso flavored) were presented to the guests by Kizuki.
Diverse Faces at Japanese
• Jessi Fletchea and Gabby Story came to the festival
from Michigan, with their Chicago friends Linda Ziolkowski and her sister
• They all love Japanese anime and “always coordinate what they wear”
to Japanese festivals. This year, they were clad in yukata (light summer
• Fletchea, with a German background, also had a Japanese
• She was handed down a Noritake tea set once owned by her great grandmother.
There are so many things [about Japan and its culture] she wants to learn
more about, she said.
• Linda Ziolkowski watched Japanese anime “Sailor Moon”
when she was small and later in high school, she “kind of rediscovered”
anime and got back into it.
• Julie said she and her sister watched anime together ever since they
were kids, and that led them to “discover” Japan. “All the stuff is really
cool,” she said.
• Julie traveled to Japan in 2018 to attend the World Cosplay Summit held
in Nagoya representing the U.S.A. She dressed as Battler, a character
from the anime “Umineko When They Cry.”
• “She [Julie] brought back all these stories about it, so we got even
more interested,” Fletchea said.
• Sava Ristanovic, Sam Rosen and Jacob Addante were all
• Ristanovic has been to Japan three times and taught himself some basic
• He was interested in the JET (Japan Exchange and Teaching) program when
he was younger. “I like Japanese culture,” he said. “I’m not a college
student anymore, so now I’m too old [for the JET program].”
• Rosen visited Tokyo, Kyoto, Osaka, Kanazawa and Gunma Prefecture with
Ristanovic last October.
• He has a friend in Tokyo who came to his college to study and is now
back in Tokyo.
• Rosen met with her for lunch and had a “fun time.”
• “We went over there [to Japan] because we just like traveling; it’s
like scanning the culture of that country,” he added.
• Addante is a music teacher fresh from college. He watched anime when
he was a boy, and still likes it “more from a cultural standpoint” now.
• “The more I learn about Japanese culture, the more interested I become
because everything about it is so different from the Western culture,”
he said. “Even architecture – it’s way different.”
• Maria Isabel Sone came with her boyfriend Josh Genung
and his sister Ashley. The three were all dressed in kimono.
• Sone’s vintage kimono, she thinks, is from the Taisho period (1912 –
1926), and her obi (sash) is even older than that. She purchased both
at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign’s Japan House Festival.
• Josh Genung, a UI at Urbana-Champaign student, bought his kimono at
the venue of Japanese Festival.
• Genung was always interested in Japanese games and anime. He had a chance
to visit Japan for two weeks as part of a sister-city program. He is now
interested in the JET program.
• During his two-week stay in Japan, Genung’s host family handed him a
yukata as a gift for his sister Ashley, which she wore this day.
• Ashley started watching anime because of her brother. She now enjoys
going to Japanese festivals and events.
• Thirty-two-year-old John Diamond was wearing a T-shirt
that says “Tokyo.” He said he has bought it online from Amazon. His anime
history dates back 20 years.
• Accompanying Diamond were Jambrisha Oerrickson, also an anime fan, and
Kyle Anderson. Oerrickson’s favorite anime is “Kimetsu no yaiba“ (“Demon
• A student of the UI at Urbana-Champaign, Oerrickson visited Kobe for
six weeks in 2017 in an exchange program.
• “Oh, it was wonderful. The college [over there] was very interesting;
we had many different teachers,” she said in Japanese.
• “I could go for another serving of gyoza,” she added, showing a plate
of karaage in her hand.
• Yuji Harada, who earned a graduate degree from Northwestern
University, and his friend Kelsey Winzeler were from Detroit. They made
a stop at Japanese Matsuri after the Northwestern football game on the
• Winzeler got interested in Japan through Harada. She just got back from
Japan a month ago. “It was very, very hot over there, but I had a great
time,” she said. “We went to a couple of festivals and I bought a yukata
there. I wish I had it on today.”