Southern California

CALIFORNIA: SANTA ANA (LYON AIR MUSEUM/ CLASSIC CAR SHOW)

Earlier, I posted an article about the Lyon Air Museum located in Santa Ana, California.  The facility occupies a 30,000 square foot hangar on the west side of John Wayne Airport and provides a unique setting for events such as galas, holiday parties, fashion shows and receptions. From now until September 2017, the museum is hosting a classic car show featuring a nice collection of pristine classic cars that will appeal to the classic car hobbyist and thrill seeker alike.

There is a 1939 Mercedes-Benz Model G4 Offener Touring Wagon and a 1940s Divco Helms Bakery Truck that are  already a part of the museum’s permanent collection. The museum also features a nice collection of military vehicles and motorcycles which include the 1939 German VID Tempo Gelaendewagen, the 1942 Ford GPW Military Jeep, the 1943 German NSU Kettenkrad HK 101 Tracked Motorcycle and the 1943 Japanese Rikuo Sidecar Motorcycle, just to list a few.

The classic car show features the 1927 Bugatti Type 35B Grand Prix which was driven by race car driver, William Grover-Williams, who was captured by the Gestapo in Germany  in August of 1943. He was sent to a concentration camp for nearly two years and executed in March of 1945, just a few months before the end of WWII.  You will also find a 1953 Jaguar XK120 Roadster. This vehicle’s prototype was displayed at the London Auto Show in 1948.  Then there is my favorite in the collection, the 1955 Mercedes Benz 300SL Gullwing Coupe in a striking red!

Visitors can enjoy the classic cars and everything else this unique museum has to offer all for one admission fee.  General admission is $12 for adults and $6 for children between the ages of 5 and 17.  Children under 5 are admitted free.  The Lyon Air Museum is located on 19300 Ike Jones Road in Santa Ana, California.  It is open daily from 10:00 AM to 4:00 PM which the exception of Thanksgiving day and Christmas day. You can contact them at (714) 210-4585 for more information.

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California: Los Angeles (WonderCon 2016)

The otaku culture (anime and manga fandom) is alive and well, not only in Japan but also overseas.  There are countless pop culture conventions held annually all over the world including Australia, India, UAE, Romania, Russia, the UK  and Brazil.  The largest and oldest gathering is held in San Diego, California under the banner of the “San Diego Comic-Con.”

The San Diego Comic-Con is a multi-genre entertainment and comic convention that originated in 1970. The four-day event takes place during the summer showcasing primarily comic books and science fiction/fantasy related film, television and similar popular arts. In recent years, the convention has expanded to include a larger range of pop culture and entertainment elements across virtually all genres, including horror, animation, anime, manga, toys, collectible card games, video games, web comics and fantasy novels. With the San Diego Convention Center as its venue, the event draws well over 130,000 attendees annually.

This year, Los Angeles, California played host to yet another comic book, science fiction and motion picture convention called “WonderCon.” WonderCon originated in the San Francisco Bay Area in 1987 until it was relocated to Anaheim, California in 2012.  It has been a part of the Comic-Con International family since 2001 drawing an increasing number of attendees each year.  In 2016, the event took place at the Los Angeles Convention Center on March 25-27 attracting a crowd of over 60,000 attendees and generating an income of $32 million over the three-day period.

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In the past, Los Angeles has hosted such shows as Comikaze, which is now partnered with Stan Lee’s POW Entertainment and the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention, but those shows do not attract the same level of crowds nor talent as does a Comic-Con event.

WonderCon kicked off on Friday at 12:00 PM featuring various game demos, exhibitors, dealer tables, tournaments, artists, author signings and star autograph booths where attendees had an opportunity to meet the likes of Lou Ferrigno, a former bodybuilder turned actor who stared in the Incredible Hulk and Richard Hatch known for his role as Captain Apollo on Battlestar Galactica. There were gatherings of various fan groups, panels and programs featuring various anime series and a children’s film festival.  The event concluded on Sunday at 5:00 PM.

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Richard Hatch

Almost as entertaining as the various people involved in the WonderCon industry were the various cos-players dressed in some of the most elaborate costumes you can find. These people are serious about anime and put a great deal of effort into selecting and creating their costumes.

If you missed WonderCon in Los Angeles, do not worry.  The event is returning to the Anaheim Convention Center on March 31-April 2 of 2017 and will certainly be bigger and better than in previous years!

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Web Page:         http://www.comic-con.org/wca

California: Huntington Beach (Surf City USA)

Southern California is a culturally diverse and well known area that draws many tourists for its fine year-round weather, open dramatic spaces, beaches and numerous amusement parks. The beach and car culture is predominant here and no city epitomizes this better than Huntington Beach.

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Huntington Beach, a seaside city in Orange County California, was named after American businessman Henry E. Huntington. It is the most populous beach city in Orange County characterized by its 9.5-mile stretch of sandy beach, excellent surfing and numerous car shows held throughout the year. The consistent surf all year long has earned the city its nickname “Surf City.”

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The downtown district of Huntington Beach includes an active art center, a colorful shopping district, the Surfing Walk of Fame and the International Surfing Museum. The Huntington Beach Pier stretches from Main Street into the Pacific Ocean. At the end of the pier you will find the famous Ruby’s Diner serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Many of the events at Huntington Beach are focused around the beach. The U.S. Open of Surfing takes place at the south side of the pier from late July through early August. A biathlon hosted by the Bolsa Chica & Huntington State Beach Lifeguards takes place in July and the AVP Beach Volleyball Tour stops in Huntington Beach in mid-September. In addition to the beach-focused events, there is a Fourth of July parade which has been held here since 1904. The SoCal Independent Film Festival takes place every September. During the winter, the annual Cruise of Lights Boat Tour, featuring a parade of colorfully lighted boats is held in the Huntington Harbor. In February of each year since 1996, the Surf City USA marathon is held with over 20,000 runners participating in the event. The annual Kite Festival is held just north of the pier in late February.

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Huntington Beach takes its wheels almost as seriously as its waves and hosts various car shows such as the Beachcruiser Meet and the Concours d’Elegance. The Beachcruiser Meet is held in March, with over 250 classic cars displayed along Main Street and the Pier parking lot. The Concours d’Elegance is held at Central Park in June and benefits the public library.

The Beachcruiser Meet is an unsurpassed gathering of Volkswagen transporters, Nomads, woodies and other vehicles built in 1967 or earlier. The annual event takes place in downtown Huntington Beach on Main Street and Pacific Coast Highway on the third weekend in March and is free to visitors. The event hours are from 8:00 AM – 5:00 PM on Saturday and 8:00 AM – 2:30 PM on Sunday. (hbcruisers.com)

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So whether it is the beach, the surf, the cars or just plain people watching that draws you to Southern California, be sure to include Huntington Beach on your list of places to visit. You will not be disappointed.

Web Page:         http://www.huntingtonbeachca.gov/

 

Japanese Natsu Matsuri (Summer Festival) Fare

Recently I have been covering summer festivals, both here in California and in Japan! But what I haven’t covered is the scrumptious summer festival fare that draws crowds out as much as the dancing, fireworks and the events themselves do! Imagine yourself wrapped in your summer yukata wondering through the countless street stalls taking in the sweet and savory aromas wafting through the air. What would appeal most to your taste buds? Would it be the fried foods, the shaved ice or would you prefer something on a stick?

The natsu matsuri (summer festival) food offerings are extensive and there is something to satisfy everyone’s taste buds. Noodles are a big part of the Japanese diet and yakisoba (tepan tossed noodles with pork and cabbage) are very popular during the summer festivals. So is the okonomiyaki (fried batter with cabbage, pork and eggs topped off with sauce and mayonnaise) as well as the takoyaki (ball shaped fried batter with octopus). Getting the hang of it? “Yaki” means fried and the Japanese love their fried foods.

Food stalls during natsu matsuri

Food stalls during natsu matsuri

Wearing summer yukatas during natsu matsuri

Wearing summer yukatas during natsu matsuri

Yakisoba

Yakisoba

Takoyaki

Takoyaki

Takoyaki as it is served

Takoyaki as it is served

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Sweet potatoes

People are walking around, socializing and enjoying the matsuri atmosphere. Food that comes on a stick is easy to eat and there are so many choices. Everything from yakitori (grilled pieces of chicken) to corn, to mochi and even chocolate covered bananas. You can have it all on a stick.

Corn on a stick

Corn on a stick

Chocolate covered bananas and pineapple slices

Chocolate covered bananas and pineapple slices

Hotdogs on a stick

Hotdogs on a stick

Cucumbers on a stick

Cucumbers on a stick

The summer heat and humidity in Japan can sometimes be unbearable. Hence, the popularity of shaved ice. Topped off with flavored syrup or even green tea and sweet red beans (anko) it is a great way to cool off in the outdoors. Another great way to cool off is with an ice cold beer or Chu Hi, a canned alcoholic beverage whose name is derived from shochu highball. Traditional Chu Hi is made with shochu and carbonated water flavored with lemon, though some modern commercial variants use vodka in place of shochu. The flavors available have recently increased to include lime, grapefruit, apple, orange, pineapple, grape, grape, kiwi, ume (plum), yuzu (Japanese citrus), lychee (berry), peach, strawberry cream, and cream soda. Of course, if your prefer something non-alcoholic, there is always ice cold Ramune!

Shaved ice

Shaved ice

Kirin beer stand

Kirin beer stand

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Chu Hi

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So if you have not had time to enjoy natsu matsuri, there is still time. Bring your friends along and share the great natsu matsuri fare, the more the merrier!

California: Southern California Festivals/ Fairs

Southern California offers such diversity that there is always something for everyone here.  Whether you enjoy the beach, the dessert or the mountains, you can always find something to satisfy you.

The same holds true for the series of festivals and fairs that are held in Southern California throughout the year.  Something to satisfy everyone!

Renaissance Pleasure Faire

6520 N Irwindale Ave #202,

Irwindale, California 91702

http://www.renfair.com/socal/

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The Renaissance Pleasure Faire began in Agoura in 1963 and was created to provide school children and their families with a living history of Elizabethan England.  Since its inception, the faire has grown into an interactive playground for over 200,000 guests and participants. Over the years, more than 5 million people from around the world have visited Southern California’s Renaissance Pleasure Faire!

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Nisei Week

Little Tokyo District

Los Angeles, CA.

http://www.niseiweek.org/

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With a sizeable Japanese population residing in Southern California, Los Angeles is the annual host of the Nisei Week festival. 

Nisei (meaning second generation) week is a nine-day festival which was first held in 1934 and today is recognized as one of the longest running ethnic festivals in the U.S.  The event takes place in Los Angeles’ Little Tokyo district during August.

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During the nine-day event, one weekend is devoted to the traditional Tanabata Festival.  This event celebrates the meeting of the deities Orihime and Hikoboshi represented by the stars, Vega and Altair who according to legend are seperated by the Milky Way and allowed to meet only once a year.

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In preparation of the celebration, people make colorful flower decorations out of “washi” paper that will be displayed throughout the event.

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Bridge Summer Festival

Torrance Cultural Center

3330 Civic Center Drive, Torrance, CA

http://bridgeusa.com/SpecialEdition/sp.php?n=201306&p=sf

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Each July Bridge USA, a Japanese language monthly magazine hosts its annual summer festival.  Modeled after the traditional matsuri, the event is a celebration of Japanese culture featuring countless food and game booths as well as an entertainment stage showcasing performances by local and overseas Japanese acts.

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The festival draws throngs of Japanese and non-Japanese alike with its thundering Taiko performances, martial arts demonstrations and talent show.

In Japan children try to scoop up gold fish with tiny paper backed scoopers called poi.  Here they play the same game with marbles. The game is called kingyo sukui.

In Japan children try to scoop up gold fish with tiny paper backed scoopers called poi. Here they play the same game with marbles. The game is called kingyo sukui.

Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made with pieces of octopus and wheat flour batter

Takoyaki is a ball-shaped Japanese snack made with pieces of octopus and wheat flour batter

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Yaki tori, meaning grilled chicken is cooked to perfection on a stick and goes great with Japanese beer!

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning "what you like" or "what you want", and yaki meaning "grilled" or "cooked."

Okonomiyaki is a Japanese savory pancake containing a variety of ingredients. The name is derived from the word okonomi, meaning “what you like” or “what you want”, and yaki meaning “grilled” or “cooked.”

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The mikoshi serves as the vehicle to transport a deity while moving between the main shrine and a temporary shrine during a festival or when moving to a new shrine.

The mikoshi serves as the vehicle to transport a deity while moving between the main shrine and a temporary shrine during a festival or when moving to a new shrine.

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Various booths offer everything imaginable for sale

You can have a photograph taken wearing a kimono

You can have a photograph taken wearing a kimono

Live entertainment is available throughout the festival. Some acts travel all the way from Japan to perform here.

Live entertainment is available throughout the festival. Some acts travel all the way from Japan to perform here.

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