The OC Japan Fair drew an estimated 30,000 people earlier this month for its annual showcase of Japanese food, art, culture and performance.

Held on the Orange County Fairgrounds Oct. 19 to 21, the festival featured 72 vendors, selling Japanese foods such as ramen, Japanese barbecue, takoyaki and Japanese soda, and art exhibits.

“This is a very specific cultural exchange,” said Hiroko Hata, visual media coordinator for the OC Japan Fair. “Japanese culture is not the same as Vietnamese, or other Asian cultures like Korean or Chinese.”

Performances included taiko drumming, bonsai trimming and calligraphy.

Shingo Fujishima, manager of Tamean Japanese BBQ and Steak, a restaurant in Lomita, said he drove more than 30 miles to Costa Mesa to promote his food — the second time he’s sold his dishes at the OC Japan Fair. It’s worth it, he said.

“After we do this event, there have been people from OC coming to our restaurant,” Fujishima said.

The event also attracted people from other backgrounds. Costa Mesa resident Alison Wright said that she attended the event with her husband, mother-in-law, who is from Okinawa, Japan, and father-in-law who is from New Mexico.

“We want to come for the food, see some of the calligraphy that’s being done right now, and just experience the whole event,” Wright said. “I was saying how fortunate we are to live so close.”

Hata hopes the festival will contribute to the multiculturalism of Southern California.

“We are starting to do something right here so other people can start to advocate and understand what Japanese culture is,” she said. “I can’t say what is our one goal, but I think it’s going to be a big change in culture diversity in Los Angeles, OC or in the United States.”

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