Aki Fest: A Celebration of Matsuri Culture

On September 27th and 28th, THE MAGIC RAIN had the pleasure of attending a festival at Taylor’s Lakeside Campus. Titled Aki Fest, the annual event was brought to us by the Japanese Student Association Malaysia (JSAM) and Taylor’s Anime Society (TAS) as a look into the experience of Japanese matsuri (festival) culture, right here in Malaysia. Entrance was free of charge, and attendees need only to register themselves to enter.

Aki (秋), means autumn in Japanese, which is fitting given the time of year the festival is being held. In typical matsuri fashion, there are food stalls and just a bunch of activities to do in general.

Japanese Food Stalls

As Malaysians, the first thing that one would obviously look to is of course, the food. In that regard, there definitely wasn’t a shortage, as there were a large variety of Japanese food stalls, run by the joint effort of Japanese and local hospitality and culinary arts students. Takoyaki, onigiri and much more were all available for consumption, to fill your desire of Japanese food.

The stalls were well run, with a decent selection of delicious food that were priced reasonably as well. It’s safe to say, food definitely was not a problem at Aki Fest.

Matsuri Games

No Japanese matsuri would be complete without carnival games, and Aki Fest obliges, with a large variety of games and activities for attendees to try their luck at. With each activity completed, each attendee is awarded a number of points that they could then use to redeem prizes. The games are typical of those you might find in an actual Japanese festival.

Dress for the Occassion

Have you ever wanted to completely immerse yourself in the experience of attending a matsuri in an authentic yukata? Aki Fest provided a yukata rental area for those who were interested in trying one out for the the evening. They also provided some help and guidance in putting on the yukata, while the ladies also got free hair-styling courtesy of a few professionals, in order to sell the atmosphere even further. For attendees who wanted to own a yukata of their very own, Jalan Jalan Japan was also there, selling secondhand yukatas with some very beautiful designs.

An Exhibition of Culture

Aki Fest also had itself a cultural exhibition for those who wanted to learn even more about Japanese culture. There was an entire section dedicated to exploring the beauty as well as the significance of Japanese culture, with authentic Japanese toys, dolls, a look at an actual kimono, as well as miniature sets that showcase the culture of Japan during each month. All this was brought to us by the Japanese Embassy, in an effort to raise awareness and public knowledge about said culture.

The Stage

There was a dedicated stage area, with live performances around the clock for attendees to watch and enjoy. The acts consisted of local talents in the ACG community, music performances from their own community of Japanese and local students, as well as traditional Japanese dances by the Malaysian Yosakoi Soran team. At the end of the festivities, there was also a Bon Odori dance that attendees were encouraged to partake in. All in all, it was a very lively atmosphere and experience. There were also mini contests, such as a sushi eating competition, that really brings out the closeness of the community.

What did we think?

Despite the awkward timing of the event (Friday and Saturday), the event was still a lively and enjoyable affair for all those who had attended. With the rise of appreciation for Japanese culture here in Malaysia, it’d be nice to see even more matsuri-style events pop up, so that everyone can have a taste of the festival air.

Were you there at Aki Fest? If you were, let us know in the comments section below on your thoughts!

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