After six years of presenting Matsuri each year, I can confidently say that we know how to throw a good party. Every year, the party gets bigger and stronger. People show up earlier and stay longer. For all of us at Umami Mart, we look forward to Matsuri months before it happens. It's the one time of the year that we go all out. We invite our favorite collaborators and invite everyone in the galaxy to eat, drink, and hang out.
We held Matsuri in the back parking lot of Umami Mart on Saturday July 28, from 12-4pm. This year, we invited our favorite collaborators.
The Trappist poured Japanese beers and sake on the patio.
Aburaya slinged Kamikaze Dogs.
Shiba Ramen dished out the hiyashichuka (summer salad ramen).
Stonemill Matcha trucked over from the Mission for their very first pop up, offering cold drinks and kakigori (Japanese shaved ice).
J-Shack rolled in with their food truck full of sweet and savory crepes.
And Suntory All Free poured non-alcoholic beers all day. Set up started at 10am and vendors started putting up their tents.
Kayoko moving kegs in her Skunk Train hat.
Stonemill Matcha showed their Matsuri spirit with this tenugui (Japanese cloth) that says "Matsuri."
The Stonemill Matcha crew pose for a pic before the crowds show up.
One of the first Matsuri-goers snags a savory crepe from J-Shack.
The lines started even before 12pm (when the event officially started). This shot was taken at 11:55am.
Adachi was ready to take your order.
Everyone came hungry so the dogs were a huge hit (they sold out well before 3pm!).
By 12:25pm, I spotted the drone that our long time friend and customer @samayoukodomo launched into the air.
It's become a tradition to invite Emeryville Taiko every year to our Matsuri. Their robust 11-person troupe always gets a thunderous response from the crowd. It was the biggest troupe we've seen yet at Matsuri!
The drums started pounding at 12:30pm.
Taiko captivates all ages.
A shot of the back of the troupe with J-Shack in the background.
Matsuri's first drone shot captures the crowd and the troupe! by @samayoukodomo
Emeryville Taiko closed out the first set by inviting people from the crowd to participate. Photo by Eisuke Muroga
Meanwhile, the Trappist patio, where the sake and Japanese beers flowed, was at capacity.
Beers and sake on the patio.
Cabs and friends!
Jody Stillwater supplied the tunes – creating a mystically universal soundscape that hovered between Japanese and American sounds. He made sure to keep it earthbound at times and played some Drake (my favorite) and Justin T. (Kayoko's favorite). Jody throws it up.
Suntory All Free – the sleeper hit of the year! It's a non-alcoholic beer that Kayoko is crazy about.
People got Shiba Ramen's noodles into their mouths however they could.
Shiba Ramen's hiyashichuka (summer salad ramen).
The sun was out in the cloudless sky, making it perfect kakigori (Japanese shaved ice) weather. Kakigori was brought to you by Stonemill Matcha.
Keisuke aka @casadekei at the helm of the Stonemill Matcha tent!
Someone lucky got one of the last dogs Angelo is holding here at 2:35pm.
My mom, who attended Matsuri, texted me later that evening to tell me how wonderful and supportive everyone was at Matsuri. It was a reminder that the community we've built around Umami Mart has introduced me to so many vibrant and talented customers, people in the industry, and co-workers.
Matsuri is the time when everything culminates and my gratitude brims. Inside Umami Mart, the party was stuffed to the gills. In addition to Kayoko, Chris, Grace, and Jared on the floor, longtime customer Jeff directed people to where they needed to go.
Thank you Jeff!
Chris, Kayoko, and Jared (l-r) working the register.
Thanks to everyone who waited patiently in line.
Kayoko and I opened Umami Mart on Broadway on August 3, 2012 with a little dream. After six years, Umami Mart continues to amaze and hold our attention. We still laugh, and we still cry! It's just a little store in Oakland, but it's become so much more, thanks to the people who bring it to life every day. Thank you to everyone who came to Matsuri, and anyone who has come through our doors or visited us online since we opened.
As the ice melted, Kayoko and I closed out Matsuri with a dance party to Justin's Cry Me a River. It's always the best part of the party for us!