JapanFest to bring Asia to Gwinnett

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By: Jon Gallo

Published: September 14, 2017


Ali Gellin, who manages JapanFest, said what will take place on Saturday night at 7 at the Infinite Energy Arena Theatre may be unlike anything anyone has ever seen.

“We’ll have 12 musical performers together on the stage and they’ll be playing everything from Japanese music to American rock ’n’ roll,” she said “Hibiki: The Japanese Fusion Experience.” “We’ll have this backdrop that will feature animation that will be based on the music, so it what’s on the screen will be created in the moment.”

The concert highlights JapanFest, which runs from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday at the Infinite Energy Forum, Tickets for the concert cost between $12 to $15 and don’t include admission to JapanFest, for which single and two-day passes are available, starting at $10.

JapanFest, which is open, is organized by the Japan Chamber of Commerce and the Japan America Society of Georgia and supported by the Consulate General of Japan in Atlanta. The festival is designed to promote understanding between Japanese and Americans in the Southeast.

JapanFest drew about 23,500 attendees last year when the event celebrated its 30th anniversary. This year’s event will feature many of the same attractions as last year, including 13 food vendors, an outdoor beer garden selling sake and imported and domestic drinks, in addition to more than 100 booths.

Gellin estimated about 70 of the booths will feature items for sale, everything from clothing to toys to artwork to origami jewelry. The other booths will feature companies offering services, like martial arts or dance classes. Youngsters can spend time in a designated children’s area, where they can do crafts and activities.

“We will have a diverse crowd just as we’ve traditionally had, so we’ll have something for everyone,” Gellin said. “We’ll also have something fun for people of all ages, cause you will see families with kids and teenagers and 20-somethings at JapanFest.”

JapanFest also offers an array of entertainment that comes with admission. The event has five stages and will treat crowds to Matsuriza taiko drumming, J-Rock and J-Pop, a shamisen duo, classical music and the Bunraku Bay Puppet Theater, which is an ancient Japanese puppetry art known as bunraku. The show will showcase puppets dressed in traditional costume performing complex movements. There will also be a separate area for anime, a Japanese style of animation that’s become popular worldwide.

Many of the approximately 550 Japanese companies based in Georgia will display their products in the Japanese Businesses in Georgia exhibition. Interactive exhibits include the latest in Japanese technology, such as automobiles, tractors, and electronics.

The festival is in its third year at the Infinite Energy Forum after organizers felt having it outside at Stone Mountain was too risky due to the possibility of inclement weather. Gwinnett is closer to metro Atlanta and is home to a strong Asian community, which makes up about 11 percent of the population.

“Since we moved it to Gwinnett, people have really responded,” Gellin said. “It’s been very good for the festival.”