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    PCR #503  (Vol. 10, No. 46)  This edition is for the week of November 9--15, 2009.

"The Men Who Stare At Goats"  by Mike Smith
Texas Terrors: The Late Night Films of Larry Buchanan Part One  by ED Tucker
Horror Mags of the Late 80's  by Chris Woods
Japan Fest 2009 Orlando  by Jason Fetters
I Heart CrazedFanboy.com  by Lisa Scherer
Suck On That, Cheeseheads! .... Sabby Was Robbed! .... Yanks Win Series .... The Return Of The Arena League .... Would It Be Sweet? .... .... .... by Chris Munger
Coming Soon! .... The Big 4-0 .... Who? .... Passing On .... .... .... .... .... My Favorite Films, Part 2 by Mike Smith
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Japan Fest 2009 Orlando

Randy, a friend of mine who studied Chinese in Taiwan and Mainland China, and I got together around 10am to get ready for the Japanese Festival in Orlando for 2009. The slogan each year never changes and it is, “Come and feel Japan,” which makes it the butt for all types of sexual jokes. We both got in my Toyota Corolla at 10am and I drove. I kept the speed at 75mph the whole time and we made it to the Village at Hunter’s Creek by 11:15.

When we got there trucks and vans were pulling up. Japanese and Americans were both working together to put up tents for the dozens of booths. A Taiko drumming performance was already in full swing so we went out to the park and checked out the stage. There were a few people at the beginning. That wouldn’t last long. People sitting in chairs just watching. The wind was incredible but cool enough to damper the humidity. The drummers are part of a group called the Orlando Taiko Dojo.

Japan Fest is put on by a Orlando based language and cultural school called Orlando Hoshuko that teaches Japanese language and cultural values to Japanese living in Orlando whose parents work in Orlando, mixed children with one Japanese parents, but also to anyone who wants to learn. All the proceeds go to help the Orlando Hoshuko School.

The school is probably like Kansai Gaidai, the language university I attended in Hirakata City, Osaka, Japan.

I didn’t realize how many clubs and organizations relating to Japanese culture were available in the US until I went to Japan Fest.

Randy and I met members of a Kimono Club in Orlando where the members learn how to make and repair kimono and the tedious task of putting on a kimono which sometimes requires an expert to help you, even in Japan.

We also met Shamisen players, which is a type of Japanese guitar, and they were wonderful and pleasant to talk to. Also, a koto player, a Japanese harp, was around the backstage area. Japan Fest was good for classical refined traditional music but no Jpop or anything modern.

There were so many booths to check out from Shodo (calligraphy) to H.I.S., a discount travel agent, Japanese language lessons, souvenirs, and what I call festival masks. Even in Japan you can find festival masks, little Halloween type masks, for all ages, of comedians, anime characters like Doraemon (a short blue cat that has a magical pouch over his stomach that he can pull different objects out of), TV show characters like Ultraman and the Kamen Riders, and for the girls, Hello Kitty. That was the booths on the far right. At the front of the booths I found a used book sale and went manga hunting. I scored two volumes of Detective Conan (released in the US as the anime Case Closed) in color for only two dollars. In Japan the same manga volume would cost 798 yen (around seven bucks with some change added.

As Randy and I checked out the booths, the crowds came in droves. Finally the food vendors opened up and I assembled an Osaka meal from three different vendors. First, we had Beef Curry over rice with pieces of red pickled ginger to spread over the curry sauce. Beef Curry is a very popular dish in Osaka. Next was Takoyaki, small round balls made with pancake flour and with pieces of octopus tentacles inside. Takoyaki can be thought of as similar to eating calamari (another favorite of mine) but a different taste.

For desert I had the popular desert Inari sushi, which is sweet fried tofu folded over like a piece of sushi with sushi seasoned rice inside.

To wash it all down with, we both got two apple flavored sake. Sake can have a bland taste and I’m used to drinking it hot. However the sour apple flavor really brought out a new taste and besides, there is no buzz quite like a sake buzz.

Lots of interesting people to talk to, including a single girl with a dog who was very chatty. There were so many people that you could barely walk down the aisles.

I went looking for a bathroom after downing my sake and ventured off and found two women dressed in kimono taking a cigarette break. They looked like geisha smoking which I found funny.

We went over to look at the souvenirs and one woman ahead of us farted so strong that it literally knocked me back. I had to get out of the line. I have never had a fart that lingered that long and wouldn’t go away after awhile. Maybe it was her method of reducing the line because others left too.

It was overall a positive experience and if you ever want to sample what Japan might be like before taking the big trip over, it’s a good starting point. There was only one negative. The restroom situation. For all the 300 and more people attending all they had available was two port-o-potties behind the stage. I waited my turn in line and had to pee and when I got inside the smell was unbearable. There was just too much crap in the toilet and it wasn’t one of those toilets that extends down it was up in your face. The kid who just finished, whizzed on the seat and I had to touch it briefly to put the seat up. I felt sorry for the three young Japanese girls who were waiting behind me. I hope those foul port-o-potties didn’t leave a lasting bad impression of the US. Women need a clean toilet to do their business and Japanese women need a cleaner place to sit than most people. But we were all roughing it. I’m sure they went through that experience to help the school. When the Japanese have a goal in mind, unpleasant obstacles are conquered as they come up.

This festival was very different than a real festival in Japan. In Japan a festival would start at 7pm and lots of drunk people would be singing, shouting, and taking off their clothes in the street. No one would leave until 8am the next morning. Japan Fest was more like a high school festival or a university festival, something put on during the day for only about four hours.

Japan Fest was a great experience for me. I met lots of people from Osaka and even got to practice Osaka ben (the Osaka regional dialect.) If you want to attend next year’s, it should happen around November to mid-December. Japan Fest is the closest you can get to experiencing a fun Japanese festival without having to take a long plane ride over to Japan.

"The Asian Aperture" is ©2009 by Jason Fetters.  Webpage design and all graphics herein (except where otherwise noted) are creations of Nolan B. Canova.  All contents of Nolan's Pop Culture Review are ©2009 by Nolan B. Canova.