First annual Waku Waku Festival brings Japanese culture to Brooklyn

Japanese culture is coming to Brooklyn in a big way.

The first annual Waku Waku Festival will be held in the diverse borough as August draws to an end, and the weekend-long festival is slated to present a series of events that feature the best of Japanese entertainment, such as anime, manga, film and music, as well as food and fashion, in Greenpoint and Williamsburg.

The event will be broadcast and hosted by NHK (Japan Broadcasting Corporation) which is Japan’s sole public broadcaster, operating the country’s largest national and international television network.

“We look to gather a group of creative artists from Japan to share their passions with us,” said Senior Manager for NHK World TV Marketing, Kusabu Tani. “It’s cool that Japan meets New York’s coolest borough. With a focus on access and engagement, Waku Waku in New York City is
built to inspire new audiences and new ideas.”

Though the inaugural festival could’ve been held anywhere in the country, Tani feels that Brooklyn is the perfect match due to the borough’s growing interest in Japanese culture. “Brooklyn is unlike any other neighborhood because Brooklynites embrace the unknown and dare to be different,” she added. “The Waku Waku Festival takes the traditional Japanese culture and puts a splash of new school flavor and originality in it. All of the scheduled guests and performers have revolutionized the Japanese culture to create a revitalized image of
Japan’s pop culture.”

Although this festival is the first of its kind in the borough, attendees should not expect it to be the last. “We plan on making the Waku Waku Festival an annual event that celebrates the fusion of Japanese and American culture,” Tani said. “Recently there has been a major spike in interest in the Japanese cultural influence around the United States and this event has served as the perfect dissemination point to introduce New York City to Japanese food, fashion, art, anime and music. We have already seen Brooklyn embrace the Waku Waku Festival through ticket sales and are excited about our future projects.”

Photos courtesy of the Waku Waku Festival
Photos courtesy of the Waku Waku Festival

Of all the 10-plus events that NHK is involved with, a couple are expected to generate exceptional excitement: appearances by Chef Tatsuo Saito and fashion aficionado Misha Janette. Each has a hit show in Japan.

“Misha Janette is prominent fashion journalist, stylist, blogger and host of the popular NHK WORLD Kawaii International TV program,” Tani said. “She will be presenting a fashion show called Tokyo Above-Underground. “ Janette is known for working with famous recording artist Nicki Minaj.

Foodies won’t be left in the dark either. Saito, host of “Dining with the Chef,” said Tani, “will demonstrate how to make Japanese Bento, using the ingredients available in local stores. He will pair the Bento box with the popular Bento menu item, Rolled Omelet.”

The Waku Waku Festival begins on Saturday, August 29 and concludes Sunday, August 30. The events will be held at various venues, such as the Brooklyn Expo Center, 72 Noble Street. A one-day pass is $45, while a weekend pass is $65. For a full list of events, locations and various ticket plans, visit www.


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