The J-pop Summit Festival 2011 – J-Poppers Unite! [Review]

Where else are blue-haired girls in mini skirts a dime a dozen? And where else will you get to see a band of fortune tellers along with their traveling DJ?

Why, no other place than the J-pop Summit Festival.

The Peace Plaza in Japantown. Photo by Tabia Chui.

In its third year, this two-day festival is a major gathering point for local Japanophiles–and trust me, there were a lot of them. Cosplayers turn out and crawl Japantown to attend the events and shop at the vendors’ booths. Curious visitors photograph said cosplayers and watch the “interesting” events (anyone else interested in a flash mob-like group dance?) going up on the main stage.

This, of course, doesn’t even start to describe half of the flurry of activity the weekend of August 27th and 28th, which was when the festival took place. It wasn’t only concerts on the main stage. There were several fashion events, seiyuu (voice acting) workshops and of course, booths with their own special activities going on.

Despite two days of non-stop bustling activity in San Francisco’s normally quiet and quaint Japantown, my editors told me that I had to keep it down at 700 words. That’s right, 700 words to describe 9 concerts, 5 fashion shows, 3 contests and a whole street of booths.

They like us to get straight to the point here.

Just like how I went straight for the food trucks when I arrived that morning. Pigging out on festival food was one of the things I was really looking forward to, so I didn’t even think about holding back. And besides, I needed energy to keep me going for the rest of this action-packed festival, right? I was also lucky since my brother was with me that day–which meant I could try twice as much food.

Our food truck stops were made in the following order: Japacurry, Onigilly and Brass Knuckles.

The Snoop Dog from Brass Knuckles. Photo by Tabia Chui.

My personal favorites were the vegetable croquette from Japacurry and the “Snoop Dog” from Brass Knuckles. Snoop Dog came out first as a “Japadog,” one of the transcontinental (and formerly local) specialties of Vancouver. It was, as its name implies, a Japanese-inspired hot dog. It includes things like seaweed, fish flakes and (get this!) fresh vegetables. But if this sounds too healthy for you, no worries. The hot dog was wrapped in bacon. Mmm, bacon.

Honorable mention in food would go to the cute Chairman Bao truck. It had a creative name, but the prices were a bit too high for me given their menu options (tofu and pork in a bun for ~$6? No thanks, my dad gives them to me for free).

Another festival highlight was the chance to sit in on an h.Naoto fashion show hosted by the designer himself.

h.Naoto Fashion Show. Photo by Tabia Chui.

h.Naoto is a Japanese fashion designer who is particularly well known for his gothic and punk-inspired styles. He is a favorite especially amongst teens and young adults who roam Harajuku, Tokyo, and he’s even created a dress for Evanescence’s Amy Lee for the 2004 Grammys.

h.Naoto made a guest appearance at a ticket holder-only fashion show at New People. The lucky fashion show attendees got to look at his collection as models sashayed down the cat walk. h.Naoto also personally described the outfits and the inspirations behind them to the audience.

Since I had previously seen work done under the h.Naoto brand, it was interesting to finally meet the mastermind behind all of the designs. His easy-going personality made the event seem more like a casual and intimate show-and-tell instead of a high-end fashion show. I did appreciate this aspect of the show, since I wasn’t sure I could fit in with the other hardcore h.Naoto fans and fashionistas in the audience.

The J-pop Summit Festival really gave me some great experiences. The cheeriness of the attendees and organizers really brought out the “festive” in festival. Plus, being able to catch a fashion show that would normally only happen in Japan was another major plus for me.

To J-poppers around the world, if you’re ever in San Francisco this time of year, this is definitely a fun and family-friendly event for all. And besides, how can you go wrong with girls with electric-blue hair in mini skirts? There are just some things you see at the J-pop Summit Festival that you can’t find elsewhere (anyone care for a cuppa tea?).

Lolita Tea Ceremony. Photo by Tabia Chui.


J-pop Summit Festival Official Homepage

J-pop Summit Festival Official Facebook

J-pop Summit Festival Official Twitter

Let us know your thoughts on the J-pop Summit Festival. Follow us on Twitter and like us on Facebook for updates on what we’re covering. You can stay on top of exciting events from around the world by downloading the eventseekr app for Android or iPhone.


About Tabia
A girl whose eyes are much too big for her stomach. This leads to adventures at buffets that result in sleeping on the couch and dreaming of the next buffet to be conquered.

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