Tokyo Night Festival Organizers Bring New Japanese Expo to Houston

The Aqua S soft-serve shop at Tokyo Night Festival

Organizers Naoki Yoshida, Yusuke Motozawa and Tam Lo of last year’s Tokyo Night Festival have a new one on the horizon. Tokyo X is happening at NRG Center (inside Hall D) on June 17 from noon to 10 p.m. and June 18 from noon to 7 p.m.  It will be the first Japanese expo hosted at that location. 

The Tokyo X festival is designed as a melting pot of Japanese culture where traditional meets modern and overseas guests meet Houston locals. For many second-generation AAPIs (Asian American Pacific Islanders), it’s a safe place to celebrate their identities and heritages. 

Tokyo Night Festival founders Yusuke Motozawa and Tam Lo
Tokyo Night Festival founders Yusuke Motozawa and Tam Lo. Courtesy photo.

The 2022 Tokyo Night Festival was canceled, giving the organizers time to improve the experience. Tokyo X will not only be indoors but also offer more parking space. 

The “X” in the event title symbolically means bridging Houston and Japan. “X” also stands for “expo; Most importantly, Tokyo X is an extension of the founders’ collective culinary background. The organizer mentioned that “X” also means “the X factor.” According to The Flavor Bible, “Flavor  = taste + aroma + mouthfeel + the X factor.” This mysterious component refers to how food triggers profound emotions that connect us all. 

The last Tokyo festival event in Houston sold over 10,000 tickets, but the founders want Tokyo X to become the nation’s largest Japanese expo. Ticket sales for that event could surge beyond the prior record.  

Sumo demonstration at Tokyo Night Festival
Sumo demonstration at Tokyo Night Festival. Courtesy photo.

Influenced by Japanese ACG culture (A: Anime; C: Comic; G: Game), Tokyo X features over 200 vendors offering food, anime merchandise, traditional Japanese textiles, Gashapon (capsule toy machines), activities including arcade tournaments, Pokémon TCG Tournaments, car shows, cosplay contests, educational panels, voice actor Q&As and live performances of (kendo, sumo, and music). 

Cosplayers at Tokyo Night Festival in Houston
Cosplayers at Tokyo Night Festival. Courtesy photo.

For the car shows, Tokyo X partners with local car clubs (such as Oishii Imports) to showcase famous Japanese Domestic Market (JDM) cars and Itasha. Japanese Domestic Market refers to vehicles created for the Japanese public with custom-tailored features. Itasha (痛車; translates as unbearable or cringe-worthy cars) are celebrated among anime fans for showing off individuality through bold and vibrant car wraps inspired by ACG culture.   

Green Tea Mille Crêpe
Lady M, which just established a permanent cake boutique in Houston, is among the Tokyo X exhibitors. Courtesy photo.

Here’s the list of vendors serving food at Tokyo X: 

  • Gindaco USA – takoyaki / abura soba
  • Tenkatori USA – Kyushu-style karaage
  • Onigiri – rice balls
  • TOKYO Maid Café
  • Osada-En – Shizuoka Japanese Tea
  • Whitefin Market – sushi 
  • Japanese Association of Greater Houston – Osaka-style takoyaki
  • Sapa Soy Sauce
  • Teagu Café
  • Chef Gabriel Medina (most recently of CLICK Virtual Food Hall)
  • Oh My Gogi
  • AtCha
  • Aqua S
  • Wobblebake
  • Caobao
  • B&B Concession
  • The Bubble Gem
  • Lady M Cake Boutique

Tokyo X tickets are on sale online. The ticket price ranges from $30 to $150. Kids under the age of 5 are free. 

Self-serve parking at NRG Center costs $20 daily and only accepts cashless payments. 

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