Last week, I attended one of the largest Japanese Festivals in Orange County, Taste of Japan, and I was astonished by the sheer volume of people attending. There were thousands of people attending, all from different age ranges, ethnicities, and backgrounds. So many people were in attendance; walking away without bumping into someone was hard. It was hot, too, almost ranging high nineties, so all the excess body heat made things admittedly uncomfortable. I kept looking for shade away from the crowd, but other people had the same idea, and there was no spare shade. Luckily, I was given a fan by the event staff, and it helped cool me down a bit. 

I got tired of the crowds fast, but, looking for the positive, I was happy to see so many people attending and having fun. The plaza was chock full of families and folks in cosplay. I saw someone dressed as Monkey D. Luffy from One Piece, another person dressed as Tanjiro Kamado from Demon Slayer, and not one but two Chainsaw Men duking it out for a photo shoot! I couldn’t stay for the Cosplay Contest at 7 PM, but I was optimistic those guys would be finalists!

As I explored the plaza and checked out the vendors, I spied Chunky Tomato and rushed to their booth, determined to buy some of their designs. I love their vibrant art style and bought one of their PokePride pins and a Stevonnie seconds pin, which will hang proudly with the rest of my collection. If you’re a Pokémon fan looking for quirky Pride pins, check out their page and see what you can collect before they all sell out!

IG: Chunky Tomato. Photo Source: Brandi Ortiz from the Game of Nerds.

With the length of the food lines, I had no chance of grabbing exotic grub, but I got to spy on the cooks. I may cook poorly, but I love being near a kitchen. The smell of food is everywhere, and it puts me in a good mood. I may not have gotten the chance to taste anything without waiting an hour in line, but it was fun watching the cooks work their magic and prep the food. 

Within a few hours, I was exhausted and ready to head home. It was not my most fun experience at the GardenWalk, but if you’re willing to wait in line for good food and come prepared to take on the heat, it may be up your alley next year! There were loads to see and lots of fun to be had! I’m curious about what they’ll do next year!

I do have some advice regarding attending events. Since the temperature was in the nineties, I should’ve brought a water bottle. You got to stay hydrated during events like these. Always take the weather into account, or you could end up struggling with heat exhaustion or even heat stroke. Bring chapstick, water, and a hat (when applicable). Wear sunscreen. 

Lastly, Parking can be a hassle, so leave early to avoid congestion. I left approximately a half hour before the event, but it took me another half hour to reach the parking structure. Remember to be kind on the road. Everyone wants to land that ideal parking spot, but it’s the end of the world if you have to walk a little further. What’s more important is that you’re intent on having fun!