Japanfest, a Family Festival of Japanese Culture in Georgia

Come help celebrate the 20th anniversary of JapanFest in Atlanta, in its 12th year been at Stone Mountain Park. It’s a one or two-day journey into Japanese culture without the price of a plane ticket! In the last eight years, the festival has never failed to draw at least 15,000 people with its eclectic mix of art, food, and fun.

For this year’s festival, the focus is on martial arts. This is your chance to experience Japan’s national sport, Sumo wrestling. Last year was the very first Sumo Open at JapanFest, and it was so popular that they are bringing it back again this year. The event is organized by the Georgia Sumo Organization and it will feature more than twenty wrestlers, all fiercely seeking rank advancement.

Aside from the Sumo wrestling, there will be two stages offering exhibitions of various forms of martial arts, both unarmed and with swords. From the defensive arts of Aikido, Judo, and Karate, to the 14th-century sword-fighting system, Kendo, and the complex method involving five types of swordsmanship which is known as Shinkendo, you will be thrilled at the precision of these martial arts masters. You will also witness an exhibition of Japanese archery, so different from American archery in its emphasis on form and elegance.

If martial arts are not your style, how do you feel about an award winning Japanese jazz trumpeter? Shunzo Ono has performed with such jazz greats as Gil Evans and Herbie Hancock. He has been honored in the past with a Grammy award and the first Asian American Jazz Connection Music Award from the Universal Jazz Coalition.

Perhaps you prefer dance. Keiko Fujii is an Osaka-based performer who has been dancing since the age of three, when she began training in traditional Japanese dance. In Honululu, she added ballet, Hula, and modern dance to her repertoire. Usually, her performances dramatically depict the progression of Japanese womanhood from the classical era to modern times through dance.

You and your family will also be entertained by street performers, blues singers, candy artists, and violinists.

If all this excitement and the good smells wafting through the air make you hungry, Haru Ichiban and Umezona, two local Japanese restaurants, will come to your rescue. Ramen, udon, curry, sushi, and many other Japanese dishes will satisfy your taste buds, and you can finish off your meal with Japanese gelatos or mochi ice cream (strawberry or green tea flavored ice cream served with rice!) from Paolo’s Gelato.

But that’s not all! Hone your skills in such Japanese crafts as bonsai and woodblock prints with workshops. Buy toys, crafts, and many other Asian goods at the market. Visit exhibits from hundreds of Atlanta-based Japanese companies. And you’re sure to discover more things to amaze and edify you and your family. As an added bonus, the first 2,000 children will get a free toy.
Where else can you get all of this for $5 for an entire day? Come early and spend at least an entire day!

JAPANFEST Stone Mountain, Georgia September 23-24, 2006
Admission: $5 per person for all day admission, plus Stone Mountain admission fee of $8 per vehicle

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