Japan: Endless Discovery took place on March 11, 2012 at the The Grove in Los Angeles. The event commemorated the one year anniversary of the tragedy that shook Tohoku. The Japanese American community put on together a cultural festival in one of Los Angeles' busiest and landmark shopping center, The Grove and Farmer's Market. S|R heard about this event through V3 Cosplay Syndicate and Pacific Media Expo via Facebook. While this was a last minute request for community coverage, we kept an open mind.
Japan Endless Discovery Photo Gallery
We arrived at the event in the early afternoon. The Grove is fairly known for its historical famer's market. Visitors can find food from all over the world here. There was a huge wait for the sushi bar. The S|R team settled with fish and chips to start the day. After lunch, we saw that there were booths set up and down The Grove. Most of these booths were Japanese businesses: hotels, spa, travel, housewares, face painting, etc. We were hoping to see more foodtrucks and more cultural displays than businesses requesting surveys. Throughout the day, there would be a parade of the Kyushu Island organization, dressed in traditional clothing, playing drums up and down San Vincente Street. Pacific Media Expo's booth hosted the Chocobit Cafe, a new maid cafe in Temple City. Tourists and random passer-by's stopped and took photos with the maids.
At the main plaza of The Grove was a main stage that showcased performers. Two main events included a fashion show that had models and performers dressed in kimonos from different time periods. There were also demonstrations to show how geisha prepared themselves. They also showed a demonstration of different bridal kimonos. This was very educational and very nice to watch. Tourists even gathered around the main stage to see what was going on. Later in the day, Doll Delight and other Japanese fashionistas presented a Tokyo Street Style fashion show. Yoshiki of X Japan also stopped by to show his support for the Japanese American community.
The event brought in people from the Japanese American community. There was not many cosplayers or street style fashionistas. The event was really looking for more of the young pop culture enthusiasts present, but this was a very last minute event that we literally heard of days before. Though some of the booths had some interactive things to do (ie: facepainting, free manicures), it would have been nice to see games and other booths that sold trinkets to help raise money for the Japanese Red Cross. A bubble tea booth would have been nice too.
The Grove and Farmer's Market is one of those "must see" places in Los Angeles. It has been years since the S|R team has gone. This was a nice excuse to support the Japanese American community and enjoy a day in Los Angeles. The Grove has plenty to offer from various department stores and the water show. Farmer's Market has just about everything you could ask for in terms of cheap eats. However, this is still a major tourist area that also attracts the upper crust. We ran into rich kid tweens who pointed and laughed at the lolitas and cosplayers. Parking and driving through side streets (there is no nearby freeway entrance) can also be a pain.
However, Japan: Endless Discovery was not bad for a commerative event. If there had been more notice to vendors, food trucks, and the otaku / J-fashion community, I think this would have been a bigger event. It was different from what we had expected. The location did drive plenty of attraction from regular shoppers and tourists. However, it still would be nice if an event like this would be held in Little Tokyo, an area closer and accessible to the community. However, getting the attention and support form Los Angeles shoppers and tourists also helps spreads awareness that Japan is surviving strong even after the devastation.
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