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The Asian ApertureTampa Natsu Matsuri 2012
POSTED BY JASON FETTERS, June 10, 2012    Share

I started my Saturday really early to get ready for this yearís festival. I was up at 6am and had breakfast and a cup of coffee. By 7:30 I was off to pick up my friend who was co-judging the Cosplay Contest with me. Following a brief struggle to figure out my own handwritten directions I finally arrived at her house. By 8:10 we were off to my 3rd time going to the Tampa Natsu Matsuri, Summer Festival.

Driving to Seffner, we took 75 to the MLK exit and from there it was a brief trip to the church. Arriving at 8:30, I saw that most people were setting up tents and assembling goods for sell. Then the DJ pumped out awesome Jpop beats and we were all jamming at that point. I was looking forward to Okonomiyaki this year. After everything was in place, we took a quick stroll through the festival to see all the booths. I saw some of the same people from last year. There were vendors with Japanese books for sell and I took a brief look and saw no manga so I went on. There was a booth of knick knacks for sell. I saw the both promoting Buddhism with several books in English on display. I said Hi to Chii, a Tampa based Jpop singer. I saw the IACE booth that provides discount airfare to Japan. I didnít see a lot of food vendors, including Paul Stevens with Tokyo Mokyo, and so no Okonomiyaki this year. Later on I talked to Ron from our Meetup group and he confirmed that Paul was coming. However, there was Yakisoba from I Ai Sushi, a local izakaya based on an Osaka model. The restaurant is located on Dale Mabry and Waters, behind were Albertsons used to be. The games were set up inside tents, which was a good idea because later it was so hot. I saw Ohtani Sensei who is a master of calligraphy. It is always a learning experience for me just watching him write kanji. After the brief stroll I was back inside the tent with the others from Tampa Japanese Meetup, a local meetup group that supports Japanese language learning and culture.

Next it was time for the demo and to take pictures. First up was a martial arts school and the childrenís demo team. It was time for the kids to show off their forms, in front of an audience, and people could really see how all their hard work paid off. Boys and girls broke broads with punches, kicks, and elbows. One girl broke through a broad with a jumping front kick. It was interesting to see a Filipino Eskrima demo, involving double sticks. The great Bruce Lee used Eskrima in Enter the Dragon during the underground attack on Hanís guards. The children put on a great demo and gathered a nice crowd.

Following martial arts was Okinawan Taiko Drumming. A local group performed in unison without missing a beat. They had colorful costumes and put on a good show.

Next up was Esther, the organizer for Tampa Japanese Meetup and Naoko Hill and others who all wore beautiful kimono and sang songs. The songs ranged from traditional Japanese Folk songs to current anime hits. I found myself singing along to the Totoro song called Tonari no Totoro.

Finally it was time for the Cosplay Contest with my co-judge, Monique. We had no idea what to expect. Monique is the organizer for Kakkoii-Otaku Clan, a Meetup group for anime fans. We wanted to see lots of costumes and we briefly discussed how to judge. Three people showed up for the contest and they all looked great. It was really hard to choose. We ended up choosing a young girl who has never won anything before. She put a lot of time developing her costume and looked great. She cosplayed as Alex from Gundam Wing. Her first prize was a Neon Genesis Evangelion: Platinum Complete DVD Boxset. Her friend and rival won 2nd place as Duo Maxwell, also from Gundam Wing. She won a gift basket filled with Bento boxes, candies, and other stuff. The gift basket was beautifully designed by Esther. Monique and I had a blast judging and are already looking forward to next year.

The last event is a great way to end the festival with a traditional Japanese dance that encourages audience members to join in. You just step in and join the circle. It is very easy to follow the moves of the dancer in front of you and everyone seems to enjoy it.

Just past noon, and the festival was officially over. Cleanup was very easy and old timers already had their tents folded up and their goods back in boxes, ready for next year.

If you have never been to Japan and have never been to a real Japanese festival, this is a great way to see a matsuri. I encourage everyone to come visit next Summer.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2012 by Jason Fetters. All contents of Crazed Fanboy are ©2012 by Nolan B. Canova and Terence Nuzum.

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