[Chicago, IL] Definitely Not Tokyo: Chicago’s Ginza Festival

Near the end of summer, some friends and I went to the Ginza Festival in Chicago.

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I’m not sure if I was expecting anything, my own fault for delaying so long to write about it.   The festival is definitely smaller than I had imagined– a stage takes centerfold next to the Midwest Buddhist Temple and vendors occupy whatever space is left. Altogether, the area is maybe half a block. I don’t know how big/far a block is.


If you’re looking for an authentic, “Wow it’s like I’m in Japan!” experience, this is not for you.

The minute I walked into the temple basement, my impression of the place was a hoard of vendors trying to sell their stuff. Plants, prints of paintings, hair accessories, you name it.

Yes, I would like to buy seven butterfly hairpins and give six of them out to my friends as souvenirs. How authentic! How oriental!

Just kidding, I’ll stop being a cynic.


Despite the consumer-esque atmosphere, I still had a good time there (I seem to say this a lot). Seeing all the vibrant displays and happy families munching on teriyaki made it hard not to smile. I didn’t get a chance to try out the teriyaki, but damn, it smelled good.

Planning to stay for 1 hour should be more than enough, unless you’re interested in seeing a particular performance. I got to view some martial arts display, mostly kids and a few adults throwing each other repeatedly onto the stage floor.

I wish I could just pick up someone and toss ’em… that would be pretty cool.



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