The 32nd Annual Japan Festival, a celebration and demonstration of Japanese culture, will be held this weekend at Forest View Educational Center, 2121 Goebbert Road in Arlington Heights.
Highlights this year include Ramen Restaurant Alley featuring many variations on the Japanese mainstay and a pop concert featuring Japanese artists on Saturday night.
The festival, billed as the Midwest's largest showcase of all things Japanese, will run from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Saturday, June 7, and from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sunday, June 8. It is sponsored by the Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Chicago and the Chicago Japanese Club in partnership with Northwest Suburban High School District 214 Community Education and the Consulate General of Japan at Chicago.
The festival will present four entertainment areas:
• Tradition, featuring martial arts, calligraphy, tea ceremony, taiko drumming, art performances and a special kid's corner.
• Pop Culture, featuring free video game trials, anime, a cosplay contest, cartoon events and Kawaii!, a display of Japan's Culture of Cute.
• Market, an opportunity for visitors to experience a Japanese marketplace, information on businesses and tourism, and the latest in high-tech featuring Paro, the therapeutic baby seal robot.
• Taste, featuring the finest of Japanese cuisine including the Ramen Restaurant Alley, local Japanese gourmet goods, Japanese sweets and offerings from many local Japanese restaurants.
Ramen Restaurant Alley will feature Takashi Yagihashi with selections from his famous Slurping Turtle restaurant. He is a winner of the prestigious James Beard Foundation award. A newcomer to the Chicago ramen scene, Misoya Chicago, will offer Kyoto-style miso-based ramen. California-based Yamachan Ramen will offer fresh noodles that the West Coast has enjoyed for more than 25 years. And Myojo Ramen, one of the most famous ramen brands from Japan, will feature a variety of selections.
In addition, Benihana will show how they were the first to introduce Teppanyaki, tabletop Japanese cooking, to America.
Other festival attractions include Akinori Ogata, the only Japanese driver in the NASCAR racing series along with his #56 Eneos Motor Oil race car. Also featured will be documentary films, "Tohoku Tomo," and "Uncanny Terrain," both relating the story of Japan's recovery from the Great East Earthquake in 2011.
General admission to the festival is $5, with guests under 18 admitted free. Free parking is available in Forestview Educational Center lot.
On Saturday night, a pop concert will feature YouTube sensation Daichi, winner of the Apollo Theater's "Remix Round," and anime and video game superstar vocalist Ayane. Tickets for the 5:30 to 7 p.m. concert are $22 in advance at japanfestconcert2014.eventbrite.com or $25 at the door.
Daichi has received more than 23 million hits for his YouTube video "Daichi for Beatbox Battle Wildcard." Without using any instruments or machines, Daichi can make more than 50 different sounds using his voice, lips, nose, and tongue.
Making her singing debut on TV Anima's "W Wish," Ayane has attracted an international audience among anime and video game fans. Her hits include the debut single "Kizuna," the opening theme of "cloudier sky" and "Arrival of Tears." Her song "Lunatic Tears" won the Golden Award for Theme Song at the Bishoujo Game Awards. In 2013, she released songs for the popular sci-fi adventure series "Steins; Gate."
Event information is at facebook.com/chicagojapanfest.