The rising popularity of Japanese culture on display at OC Japan Fair

Photo by Bryan Garcia (@raw.cappella)

This past weekend was the OC Japan Fair 2023 held at the OC Fairgrounds in Costa Mesa. The OC Japan Fair was founded in 2009. If you can believe it, I was actually a musical guest that year as well. 

Shinkawasaki (@shinkawasaki)  Photo by Don Marcelo (@marcdphatos)

I was very happy and honored to be back performing this year and this time with my music artist friend Shinkawasaki. I have been releasing music with Shinkawasaki like our original song “Neon Lies”. Shinkawasaki is Japanese-native bi-lingual/cultural singer/producer that interprets culture through music and video.

Special guest Japanese Rapper Pepper ( Photo by Don Marcelo (@marcdphatos)

This year I felt that the festival had the most people I have ever seen in attendance. Organizer Masataka Taguchi has really cultivated and created a festival that showcases so many different aspects of Japanese culture like food, music, anime, travel, fashion, and more. It’s definitely one of my favorite Japanese festivals and one that shouldn’t be missed. 

Photo by Don Marcelo (@marcdphatos)

For my show I always try to incorporate as much of the retro Anime/Japan vibes with sounds and visuals. We performed some retro anime classics from series like Sailor Moon and Kiki’s Delivery Service. We also performed City Pop favorite and our own rendition of Ride on Time from Yamashita Tatsuro. Then of course we performed some of my original songs like Neon Lies that I recently released with Shinkawasaki that is inspired by Cyber Punk Anime. Then my newest single Koi No City that can easily be mistaken for a song from the showa era and fits right along with any City Pop song. 

Japanese music artist Koz (@official_koz) Photo by Bryan Garcia (@raw.cappella)

After my show I joined my good friends over at TJS and had a live interview talking about all my upcoming shows. I have done some interviews with VJ Sam before in TJS. They also play my music! 

TJS Instagram (@tjsla_radio)

OC Japan Fair has a plethora of food booths with all the greatest Japanese food here in SoCal! One of my favorites of all time is Tokyo Yakisoba! Yakisoba is a staple of Japanese festival food. Yakisoba is a Japanese noodle stir-fried dish usually made using soba noodles made from buckwheat flour. If you want real authentic yakisoba then you must try Tokyo Yakisoba. They even have a vegan Yakisoba! 

Tokyo Yakisoba Instagram (@tokyo_yakisoba)

Here I am back stage getting prepared for my show. It’s always a good thing when Pocky is provided. 

It was so much fun to see so many fellow music artists and entertainers at the festival. This is Chris Hart. We use to perform back at Anime events in 2007 together. I’m so happy to see all his success since then. 

Chris Hart Instagram (@chrishart_official)

Ai Haruna is a Japanese transgender TV personality and singer.

Ai Haruna Instagram (@aiharuna_official)

Tonikaku is a Japanese comedian who is represented by the talent agency, Yoshimoto Creative Agency.

TONIKAKU (@tonikaku.a.yasumura)

I have performed at three festivals recently where Kenji Tamura was also involved at.  Kenji Tamura or Tamuken, as he is known by his fans, is a famous comedian. He would appear in very popular shows like Suyoubi no Downtown and Tantei Knight Scoop. Once he turned 50 he decided to move to Southern California. 

KENJI TAMURA Instagram (@tamuradojou)

Yurisa is a digital creator, social media manager, and content creator. Together with Tamuken they are Cha~rity!

Yurisa Instagram (@yurisa)

AISHA is a Japanese R&B singer who has provided the vocals for several songs in Guilty Gear -Strive-.

AISHA Instagram (@aishadayo)

Travis Japan is a Japanese boy band managed by Johnny & Associates. Their name is a tribute to the American choreographer Travis Payne.

Travis Japan Instagram (@travis_japan_official)

Kohei Hattori is an International Ambassador Singer and MC from Tokyo Japan.

Kohei Hattori Instagram (@koheisings)

Warbie Yama depicts the humorous, warm and endless stories of Warbie, a cheeky bird who everyone can relate to. Arut started drawing “Warbie” (the yellow cheeky bird) and “Yama” (the smiley old man) in 2008 for his animated short “Cheez…z” that later received awards and screenings at film and animation festivals and art museums around the US and other countries.

Warbie Yama Instagram (@wabieyama)

The Pika Dudes are at a lot of the same festivals as me. They recently opened a brick and mortar in San Diego.

Pika Dude Instagram (@pikadudestore)

I’m always happy to see Sunny and Judy Seki. Sunny and Judy Seki originally had a photography studio in Rosemead, California where Seki received several awards for his photography. Sunny Seki is a staple at Japanese festivals because he is an award-winning author and illustrator of children’s books inspired by Japanese folk tales.

Neo Japonism is a five-member group whose concept is “to fight – to win and live together”. Their catchy songs move freely between rock, dance, and pop, and all five members are equally featured. My next show will be at the Viper Room this Thursday November 2nd with Shinkawasaki and Ryoji for the Neo Japonism Viper Room Show!

NEO JAPONISM Instagram (@neojaponisminfo)

Unfortunately the last day of the festival had to be cancelled due to high winds. This was so unfortunate for the outside vendors that had damage. Also a lot of local Japanese traditional performers were suppose to perform on the last day of the festival like my friends Ryujin Taiko who sent me photos of the damage that was done. Refunds are being made for people who already bought tickets. 

Photo by Don Marcelo (@marcdphatos)

The festival this year was like the wind as in the growing love for Japan really blew me away! I can’t wait for next year but please no high wind this time. 

Writer: Stephanie Yanez
Instagram @stephachu







One Reply to “The rising popularity of Japanese culture on display at OC Japan Fair”

  1. Great Articles.
    OC Japan Fair 2023 were one of the best ever!

    Thank you for taking your time at the TJS Radio booth 88 interviewing with us after your stage performance.

    Hope to see you again at the OC Japan Fair 2024!

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