Most foreigners scour Japan looking for restaurants outside the norm. In an island of lush forests and rice fields surrounded by the Pacific Ocean it can be very difficult to find flavours reminiscent of desert grown vegetables beans and cheese. For those who are constantly in search they can find hope once a year as Japan is invaded by delicious food and authentic merchandise from Mexico.
Every Autumn the Latin American and Japanese Association of International Culture Exchange (La Asociación del Intercambio Cultural entre Latinoamerica y Japón) hosts the Mexicana Fiesta in Odaiba. Nestled next to the Fuji TV headquarters you can find a street that has undergone a transformation to celebrate the Mexican culture and introduce it to Japan. Fiesta Mexicana is set to usually fall on the weekend of September 16th, thus celebrating Mexico’s Independence day. The event generally consists of two stages with various vendors in between, and has free admission.
The main stage of the event is where various mariachi bands and Mexican folk dancers perform. The performers are flown in from Mexico, one band coming directly from Guadalajara. While wearing authentic outfits they demonstrate the rich history of Mexican culture through their performances. The band Grupo Agave even performs songs in Japanese, rather than Mexico’s native language of Spanish, in order to help bridge the gap even further.
The second stage for the event is a wrestling ring. Here Japanese lucha libres (free wrestlers) entertain the crowd. What starts off as a small confrontation between two groups of luchadors quickly escalates into a full out brawl which extends into the crowd. The luchadors’ supporting team often run into the crowd to clear a path and ensure no spectator is injured. From there the luchadors’ performance spills off of the stage into the newly cleared out area, giving everyone a live view of the action as it happens right under their noses. In between the free wrestling other performers will come to the ring to sing or speak to the audience about the differences between Mexico and Japan, allowing the luchadors a break before the next show.
In between the two stages you can find an assortment of taco stands, and shops. The food stands offer a wide array of dishes from chorizos to tacos al pastor. The festival also imported various drinks including "Cerveza de los Muertos" (Beer of the Dead) and even chilli pepper beer which tasted like beer and tabasco sauce and contained a chilli pepper in it. Of course if you wanted something tequila based your options were practically limitless, even vendors bringing their own blenders in order to make margaritas. The shops aren’t just selling t-shirts with luchador masks on the, although those are available, but you can also find authentic Mexican folk clothing. Some shops sell sugar skull merchandise, the cute skeletons which are remenesant to Mexico’s Day of the Dead, including dolls and home decor. You can even find your favorite wrestlers’ mask and purchase one to wear around the event.
Although this year’s event has come and gone you can join the 17th annual Fiesta Mexicana next September, 2016 in Odaiba. So grab a luchador mask, a quesadilla and watch the masked wrestlers take to the stage while sipping on a tequila mojito.
Official website : http://www.fiestamexicana-tokyo.com/
Photography courtesy of FANTiM.COM