I do enjoy me some Japantown (San Francisco) festivals. They’re usually interesting and fun. There are lots of interesting food and they’ve been more bustling in recent years, making it even more fascinating to just watch people.

Opening ceremony, picture by Craig Gordon

This past weekend was the J-Pop Summit Festival. This year was interesting, like earlier years (I’ve gone since the first one in 2009). Unlike previous years, I actually volunteered.

Now, I have a lot of experience volunteering for large-scale events. A lot of them through the Burning Man organization (since I haven’t been able to go for some time, it’s a way for me to enjoy being a participant when I’m not able to make it out to the Playa). The J-Pop Summit is greatly different then almost all Burning Man events. I’ve been early enough to be a part of set-up for both Decompression and the J-Pop Summit. While Decompression is organized chaos, the J-Pop Summit was just organized. Everything was already being built when I arrived at 8 AM. That’s really the only way I can compare the two experiences.

After that they’re two different beasts.

I wound up working in the Hospitality room. That was a lot of fun. I set up a food and drink area and kept it as well stocked as possible.

Most of the people in the room while I was there were the models for the h.naoto fashion show. There were also some butoh dancers getting ready for their performance.

Butoh performance and Spacekraft, picture by Craig Gordon

The hospitality room was really easy to manage. I spent more time talking to the people who were sent as the person who was supposed to be working with me flaked.

I actually wound up working an extra 1.5 hours over my shift because the second person that was supposed to show up for the next shift was late.

After that I was free to roam around the festival. This year’s overall footprint felt more small scale then it was in previous years. I’m not sure why that is, but that’s how it felt.

They had a nice food truck area. I was tempted to get food from JapaCurry, but by the time I was off and able to get lunch the long was quite long. I’ll have to try and get food from it some time when it’s not at a festival.

Drummer, picture by Craig Gordon

I did manage to score one thing. Takara sake was sampling a new drink… which meant a free drink for the over 21 crowd…. which was nice. There were some interesting booths vending this year. They had bamboo smartphone covers. They also had some good artists there. Some really good art work to be had.

There was also Evangelion pop-up museum. I love looking at comic art and animation art. There’s something neat about looking at the finished product and the original sketch. I think in a lot of cases, I actually preferred the original sketch more. It was nice to see all the Evangelion stuff.

Overall, while this year felt a little smaller to me, it was great to hear some interesting music that I might not have been able to hear from Japan (and even locally), see some interesting performances, see a fashion show for a designer that I have immense respect for and to actually take part behind to scenes.

I’m going to add some bonus pictures below from the h.naoto fashion show. If anyone reading this knows the names of the models, please comment. I’ll add their names to the respective pictures.

J-Pop Summit Festival: http://www.j-pop.com/2012/
h.naoto: http://www.hnaoto.us/
akara Sake: http://www.takarasake.com/