More Taku Taku talk-talk with Yuka Nagaoka

Taku Taku MatsuriThe first Taku Taku Matsuri is happening from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Sunday at Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha-Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu, and I’ve whipped up a little primer to it in today’s TGIF. You can read about it in the print edition (for all you classic-media types) or you can check it out over on Honolulu Pulse (bonus: since it’s in Pulse, it’s free to read!).

As is usually the case for something written for print, though, I ended up with about 95 percent of what I talked about with festival organizer/founder Yuka Nagaoka just … well … sitting here, all neatly transcribed and ready to go and with nowhere else to put it. Thus, it’s time for a nice little bonus feature here on Otaku Ohana.

After the jump, you can find out more about Yuka and her background, learn some more about the present and future of Taku Taku Matsuri, see some of the things she’ll be selling at her booth, and find out the answer to the question: Where are you going to park, anyway?

Where did the inspiration for Taku Taku Matsuri come from?
It was pretty much talking with some people saying … the fact that right now there’s Kawaii Kon, and now HEXXP is gone but now at least we have Oni-Con, between those two there’s a six-month period where there really isn’t anything going on. I understand that, for example, the lolitas have their tea parties and the cosplayers have their cosplay gatherings, things like that. But there’s no event that really brings everybody together like (Kawaii Kon and Oni-Con). Of course it’s hard to make a really huge event at the convention center, but how about smaller-size events that people can just come and enjoy?

So how long has this idea been in the making? It’s not something where you wake up one day thinking, “Oh, I want to do this …”
I kind of did wake up one day thinking, “Hey, let’s do this.” (laughter) This was about … I don’t know, in maybe February or March or so. A little before Kawaii Kon, it was like, “Oh hey, maybe we should do something.” That’s why I started trying to hype it up from around Kawaii Kon.

Have you ever done anything like this before?
Being the organizer, no. I’ve been a part of people creating events, I’ve been part of a lot of different productions, and so I’ve seen the dirtiness and the … how do you say … the hardship and the pain and the blood … and politics too, of different kinds of events, everything from otaku events to musicals to shows and even campaigns like that, I’ve seen everything on the other side. So I thought, “Why can’t I do it myself,” try to use that learning experience.

Any help with organizing this?
A lot of help from friends. … I just came to Hawaii about a year and a half ago, so I really still don’t know the ins and outs. So even though I thought I knew, “OK, I need to go here and do this and this” … talking to my friends, it’s like, “Oh, you also need to go to here, you need to talk to this person,” and then it’s like, “Oh, wow, OK, thank you.”

So where did you live before this … in Japan, or…?
Before living here in Hawaii, I was living in Osaka for a year, working in a Japanese theater company, a small — a very small theater company. And I was doing everything from … I was actually one of the main actresses, but also I was doing the graphic designs, making the fliers and everything. Before that it was Boston, before that it was Tokyo.

Is Taku Taku Matsuri more of a traditional Japanese summer festival, or a mini convention, or what?
Well, this time … I was thinking more that every Taku Taku is going to have a different theme. So this time is going to be, because it’s during the summer, we thought that, ok, let’s make it partially a Japanese summer festival, like a natsu matsuri. That’s why we thought of carnival games, and that’s why I brought in the takoyaki food vendor and okonomiyaki food vendors. We also have the whole otaku-ism mixed in with a little bit of localness — that’s why we’re having local artists vend at my event.

I’m thinking for future events, maybe according to the season, we’ll make it a different theme so it’ll be easy for people that are interested in otaku-ism to come in as well. Because a lot of people, they might watch anime on Cartoon Network and it’s like, “oh, I like anime.” But they see everything happen at conventions, they think, “Oh, it’s kind of hard to step into that world.” This way, I thought people who are even slightly interested might be able to come easily inside as well.

So basically this is the first of many more …
Hopefully, hopefully. (laughter) I’m throwing around ideas like … in the wintertime, doing a “snow” event. Being Hawaii, there’s no snow, so let’s make a mock snow fight or have maybe … like on the streets and downtown, you see those Christmas decorations and you see they have those machines that have the snow fall.

What about parking?
Basically they’re going to block the entire road, so that’s where they’re going to park, and then … see, I don’t think we’re going to get a thousand people, so it’ll be like their other events. It’s not that far to walk around that place, so find your parking, it’s all street parking.

So basically they’re going to block all the way back from Honolulu Ford to the canal.
View Hawaii Kotohira Jinsha – Hawaii Dazaifu Tenmangu in a larger map

How much of the campus will you be using?
The whole thing. Everything from the inside area where they usually have the preschool, that’s going to be where we’re going to have all the artists, the vendors, things like that. We’ll have the mini-stage, that’s where we’ll have all the stage events. Where they usually have their parking is where we’re going to have our carnival games and the food trucks and all the tables for people to eat. The area that’s between the kindergarten and the shrine area is where we’re going to have cosplay chess, and of course the shrine is going to be the shrine as usual, people can do their cosplay there but also pray.

What kind of vendors will you have?
Jon Murakami is going to be there with his comics, we have some local artists that’s selling their prints. (Note: Some other confirmed exhibitors include MangaBento and idkwhat2wear.)

Our main vendor, aka me — technically my company, Correct Distortion — will be selling kimonos, secondhand kimonos from Japan, very colorful, and secondhand Japanese street fashion, basically a little bit of gothic lolita, things like that, and some small Japanese print trinkets like the Japanese fans, the little jewelry, the cute socks, the stockings … a little everything of everything.

(Note: Yuka sent along some pictures later of some of her merchandise. I’ve included those pictures below. Photos by Galen Komatsu.)

CD merch 1

CD merch 2

CD merch 3

And what types of carnival games?
When you think Japanese carnivals, you think of the kinyo scoop, the goldfish thing. But we were afraid of fish dying in the heat. So we thought, hey, let’s throw in the whole localness here, so … what do we do for local carnival? So we have balloon popping, the ring toss, things like that.

As for food, you said there was gonna be takoyaki…
Takoyaki, okonomiyaki … also yakisoba, taiyaki, shave ice, things like that.

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