The first Taste of Japan in Phoenix, Arizona!

Taste of Japan is a very popular food festival that celebrates Japanese culture which is usually held at the Anaheim Gardenwalk. With the growing love of Japanese food, Taste of Japan brought its festival to Phoenix, Arizona for the first time with food, Anime and clothing vendors from California and Arizona.

The festival was held at Heritage Square where the Rosson House Museum is located. The Museum is a fully-restored 1895 Queen Anne Victorian house museum which interprets the history of Phoenix and is supposedly haunted. 

The festival had Japanese food, drink, pop culture, anime, cosplay, entertainment, shopping, and live entertainment. I was very happy to see Gashapon which is a vending machine that dispenses capsule toys. 

Many fellow friends also traveled from California for Taste of Japan. My friend John Kenzo who is an illustrator with this wife Audrey Okeya of Okeya Stationary Co was all smiles at the festival! They brought keychains, tote bags, and other goodies with their Asian inspired whimsical worlds art.

Jon Kenzo: @kenzo_illustrations
Audrey Okeya: @audreyokeya

I also saw my friend Aya from Anime Topia. Anime Topia provides the best Anime products directly imported from Japan. They also have rare vintage goods you can not find anywhere.

My friends from Tune in Tokyo were also at the festival! They were spinning the jams of City Pop, Jpop, Kpop, and international music. They have been very busy with a ton of gigs lined up! Go check them out!

I saw my Honda Ya friends President Yutaro Mukumoto and Japanese comedian Kenji Tamura. Vice President Shinji Yamashita was also at the festival. It was great seeing everyone in Arizona. We were all just celebrating HONDA-YA 30th Anniversary Charity Event. HONDA-YA is a Japanese restaurant in Orange County in the city of Tustin. Check out my article all about the event here!

Here is my musician friend Ryoji who is based in Los Angeles. We have been creating some music together and will play a show soon together. Be on the look out for that. Ryoji was playing with Team Kawachi Ondo which are Bon Odori group. They always bring a lot of music and fun dancing to the festivals!

It was a very hot day in Arizona at the highest 104 but I was told by the locals this was nothing. This was the first time I ever performed two concerts in that kind of heat. Even with the sun blazing down on all of us it was really amazing to see everyone putting in there all into this festival. I can’t wait for the next Taste of Japan!

Writer: Stephanie Yanez
Instagram @stephachu