MEMPHIS, Tenn. – Adding to the city’s established reputation as a food lover’s paradise, succulent savories and sweets will be the orders of the day when the Memphis Japan Festival comes to town 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Sept. 30 at Memphis Botanic Garden.
Popular area food trucks and restaurants will feature tasty Japanese and Japanese-inspired menus throughout the open-air festival.
Memphis Mojo Café, Rice Burner, Sekisui and Sushicide Squad will appeal to those favoring traditional Japanese specialties in their modern adaptations like sushi, hibachi steak, chicken teriyaki, edamame, shrimp & crawfish fried rice, spring rolls, teriyaki burgers and more.
New Wing Order will have Tennessee Teriyaki Wings, made with local Tennessee honey; Tankatsu Wings, with a Japanese-style bbq sauce; Yum Yum Wings, crispy and drizzled with the popular Yum Yum Japanese steak sauce while Sliders Inn will serve pork and chicken Katsudon Sliders; and, a Vietnamese-inspired Bhan Mi Slider with mint, cilantro, limejuice, ginger, sambal, soy sauce, garlic, pickled daikon radish, carrot salad and curry mayo.
Thirst quenching libations will also tempt taste buds as TapBox serves up wine and Japanese beer; Wild Bills Olde Fashioned Soda dispenses seven flavors of cane sugar soda in collectible steel mugs; and Tea House “Edo” delivers complimentary Japanese green tea, rice cakes and candy and a place to relax in the midst of the festivities.
Parkers Concessions is sure to satisfy cravings for ices, ice cream, funnel cakes, corndogs, cotton candy and lemonade; and Mempops and Little Jimmy’s Italian Ices will cool things down with delectably-blended signature popsicle flavors and refreshing ices that come in many tasty varieties.
Contemporary and traditional Japanese music, dance and circus magic provide Main Stage highlights, while a Japanese “Candyman,” trapeze artist and master martial artists delight and excite guests.
A preliminary line-up of this year’s entertainers includes:
Daikin Taiko Drum Team - authentic taiko drum performances open the festival and continue along with interactive folk dancing throughout the day.
Kentucky’s Kent Family Magic Circus - a Japanese-American family whose canvas spans the stage and the sky, bringing a mixture of theater, vaudeville and trapeze to festival guests.
The Maguire Twins - a locally-based jazz duo that bridges Japan and America.
Opera Memphis - The opera company will perform songs from “Madama Butterfly.”
The University of Memphis Japanese Dance Circle will perform traditional bon odori.
J-pop dance groups – Musesouth and Sunlit Café are modeled after Japanese Maid Café.
Hey, Listen! – a Nashville-based video game music band will perform music from games like Super Mario, Zelda, Street Fighter and Sonic.
Songstress Nozomi Takasu – She will perform folk, pop, and jazz Japanese music.
Florida’s famed Epcot Center's “Candyman” Masaji Terasawa returns to traverse the festival with his one-man show of magic, stories and amezaiku, sculpting hot taffy into animal shapes.
Fudoshinka Dojo Kenpo Karate, Mid-South Aikido, United States Naginata Federation and Memphis Kendo Club will keep things rolling along with Martial Arts on the Lawn.
The festival, held outdoors rain or shine, features special half-price admission to Memphis Botanic Garden on Festival Day, compliments of the Japan-America Society of Tennessee and Consulate General of Japan in Nashville.
Tickets are $5 per adult and $2.50 for children 12 - 3 years old. Admission is free for Memphis Botanic Garden members and children under 2 years. Admission also includes access to the outdoor exhibition, Origami in the Garden. Parking is free.
An Advisory Council and a working committee of active community volunteers provide essential support for this celebration. Primary funding is provided by civic-minded corporate sponsors and individual donors. Tax deductible donations may be made online or on-site at the festival.
For more information, visit www.memphisjapanfestival.org.
Ginger Byrn, Festival Director
Japan-America Society of Tennessee, Inc.