Sakura Festival was held in Little Tokyo deep in the heart of downtown Los Angeles on April 10-11, 2009. The street festival celebrated achievements of Japanese Americans and celebrating Japanese American culture. For most of us, the event was about the food and free samples. The original plan was to head down to San Diego for Anime Conji, but alas, because of the recession, we decided to go to something local and close. Pacific Media Expo hosted a cosplay contest on April 10 as one of Sakura Festival's highlighted events.
Deb, Stan, and I left the South Bay to downtown Los Angeles early in the morning. We had no problem finding decent parking. The main events were happening right on 1st Street right by the Japanese American museum. While Stan did not cosplay, he was amused by the giant shark in the middle of 1st Street and the abundance of food.
The cosplay events were happening right at the J-pop stage. It was a weird area to navigate through, since you had to go through the booths surrouding the museum. It was set on the parking lot right behind Visual Communications and East West Players. By the time we got there, plenty of cosplayers gravitated towards the area to sign up for the contest. Deb and I decided to sign up just for fun and just to show our support for PMX. The two of us cosplayed from Dead or Alive.
There were plenty of local photographers and festival regulars who were interested in photos of the cosplayers. A majority of the cosplayers at the festival were from Pokemon.
While waiting for the contest to start, Stan and Deb grabbed some very interesing looking hot dogs. They were known as Dogzilla's. Essentially, it was your average hot dog with an Eastern twist. Unfortunately, because the dogs were so high in demand, I did not have the chance to try one. However, Stan and Deb can vouch that the Dogzilla's were worth the trek to Little Tokyo.
The contest started a few minutes late. Yet, the cosplayers did not seem to mind. The weather was just fine, though it started getting warmer later in the day. The contest consisted of 30 seconds to pose on stage and to talk a little bit about the making of the costume. I thought it was a short and simple format for a first time event. Many thanks to Jessica for taking on-stage photos.
Awards were divided into five different categories: first place, second place, third place, audience favorite, and honorable mention. PMX had their staff of judges, while the audience cheered who would be the winner for audience favorite. About half an hour after contest, the top five were announced and presented with cash prizes and other goodies are their reward.
While waiting for Jared, Deb and I took some Dead or Alive photos. Deb cosplayed as Hitomi from Dead or Alive 3 while I cosplayed as Lei Fang from Dead or Alive 4. There were some old buildings in the event lot that worked perfectly for fighting game type backgrounds.
Many thanks goes out to Pacific Media Expo for hosting the cosplay event. We look forward to the next PMX event that we can attend. I'm really hoping that PMX does more events in the Los Angeles area. I found the staff to be very friendly and they were happy to answer questions about this year's PMX. Keep your fingers crossed. Word on the street that the Asian popular culture con might find a new home in Pasadena.
Jared had finally arrive with his younger brother, Thinny. We walked around and tried some of the food samples. Thinny and Jared really enjoyed the mochi cake. I was also surprised to see a both for a movie that I did public relations for back in my San Francisco days. Only the Brave, a feature length presentation about Japanese Americans fighting for the allied forces during World War II, was being screened at the festival. One of the film's stars, Tamlyn Tomita (aka Kimiko of Karate Kid II), was also wandering around the festival.
Jared came to the festival dressed up as a Yankii.
Since Jared likes sweets, we went to the bakery. We found this Lolita in a cake hat.
As a Dead or Alive inside joke, I ordered soft serve ice cream. Remember guys, soft serve ice cream is one of Lei Fang's "love" gifts. No, it was not a gift from Hitomi.
Jared, Thinny, and I went window shopping at Anime Jungle. We met up with Shane, Stan, and Deb at Weller Court. To our surprise, we ran into more of our friends at Weller.
While we were together at Weller, we looked through a few of the shops, including Kinokuniya and Marukai market. We also took advantage of taking Dead or Alive shots at the plaza since the mini mall made yet another awesome fighting game background. Under Jared's direction, Deb and I posed for more pictures. I have to tell you, some of Lei Fang's Tai Chi style poses can really hurt!
Weller Court is also the home of Curry House. Hitomi and Lei Fang totally endorse the establishment! Tropical ice tea for the win!
To end the day, the five of us decided to have dinner at Orochan. The establisment is known for its super spicy ramen. Stan introduced me to this restaurant about a year ago. The portions are huge, but if you are on a tight budget, you can share it with a friend. Normally, I am not a fan of ramen (read: university instant ramen), but with the added vegtables and spicy soy sauce broth, it's a delicious way to end the Sakura Festival in Los Angeles.
Pictures are copyright by Scarlet Rhapsody. If I took your picture, feel free to use it on your site or cosplay gallery. While you're here, do sign the guestbook. This site was brought to you by the font Japan. Many thanks to Chaz Boston Baden for the image resizing and watermarking program.