Hard to believe in the most diverse city in the nation, but Houston is home to little more than 4,000 residents who identify as Japanese. But suffice it to say, the small island nation of Japan is a giant in pop culture influences.
Now Houstonians can immerse themselves in Japanese food, music, art, anime, martial arts, cars, and much more at the Tokyo Night Festival. Attendees can expect major music acts, an A-list of food vendors, anime stars, Japanese hot rods, and even sumo wrestling at the event producers are calling the "biggest Japanese event in Texas."
The fun runs 3 pm-10 pm Friday and Saturday, November 11 and 12 at the Texas Festival Grounds, 6848 Almeda-Genoa Rd. Tickets range from $2-$52 and can be found online.
Here are some highlights of the two-day Japan fest.
A major draw is a live performance by legendary Japanese hip-hop artist Zeebra. Also look for Nisei Japanese hip-hop artist and youngest National Poetry Slam champion G Yamazawa; DJ Michael “5,000” Watts and Swisha House; Kaminari Taiko Houston; World Wadaiko Champion Takumi Kato; Onoe- Ryu Japanese Dance’s Hiromi Onoe; American Japanese idol Paida; international dancer and choreographer Juju; rapper Nevos Tyler; j-rock artist Melancholiaah!; kendama performer Michael Martin; dark pop duo Innerlux; Aymi, and more.
More than 30 food vendors are confirmed for the festival. The vendors all are required to serve food with Japanese elements, combined with the vendors’ own flair. Food and drink participants include Shun Japanese Kitchen; Hako Bento Box Company; Japan Bites; Tokyo Maid Cafe; Japanese Association of Greater Houston (Takoyaki); Burger Chan; Cao Bao; Click Virtual Food Hall; Crawfish and Noodles; Ramen Tatsuya; ONIGIRI (gourmet Japanese rice balls); Tatsunoya Ramen; Aqua S; Dumpling Haus; Fattest Cow; Teagu Cafe; Global Republic; Kuramoto Ice; Marukome; Atcha; Hella Bubble; BB Concessions; Dream Eaters Coffee; Lincoln Bar; Pocari Sweat; Kimono Juice; Choya and more.
The sumo wrestling
On Saturday, the festival will host Houston’s first sumo tournament. The tournament will be open-weight only. The men’s tournament will be double eliminations (50 men maximum can register), while the women’s tournament will be round robin (20 women maximum can register). Winners will receive a trophy, a $200 cash prize, a special prize from the sponsors, and major bragging rights.
The voice actors
Fans can meet the voice actors (several of them hail from right here in Houston) who bring your favorite anime to life. Expect notable names such as Anthony Hunter, Blake Shepherd, Bryson Baugus, Christina Kelly, Jay Hickman, John Gremillion, John Swasey, Kyle Jones, and Olivia Swasey.
Quite simply, the weekend will be a chance for Houstonians to dive into Japanese culture. From martial arts showcases to jiu jitsu demonstrations to cosplay to classic Japanese cars and more, this event will definitely have a lot of people, to borrow an ‘80s song title, turning Japanese. (We really think so!)
The Tokyo Night Festival runs 3 pm-10 pm Friday and Saturday, November 11 and 12 at the Texas Festival Grounds, 6848 Almeda-Genoa Rd. Tickets range from $2-$52 and can be found online.