Cinco de Mayo Festival In Osaka



Alberto Ramirez looks up at the sunny sky and he's happy. He has a stack of tacos, and he's happy to see a blazing sun for the annual Cinco de Mayo festivities in Osaka this weekend. He has already sold over 1000 of the delicious Mexican fare.

"I'll sell all of them," he said from his booth Saturday, almost giggling, contemplating a siesta kind of an afternoon after his tacos sell out.
Across the way, 40 year-old Pedro Velez gives his own sales spiel while tossing a stuffed pink pig on a table. His wife Kana sews them by hand. He claims the toys are the best bargain at the festival. For 1000 yen one is yours to take home.
"I like how it smiles," said 7-year-old Hideo Watanabe. "It makes me happy."
On display are a line of lowriders, including a cherry red '69 Chevelle with white and gold flames on the side.
The car owned by 60 year old Ryo Sakamoto was one of numerous lowrider works of art that cruised proudly in the Cinco de Mayo parade that opened the festival Sunday morning.
"Lowrider is a culture and a way of life," Kuji Morita said while sipping from a 500 ml can of Dos Equis beer and sporting black boots, silk shirt, and black slacks. "It's cruisin'. Meeting people. You're with friends and family. Cruisin'."
But food and live music from the stages may be the stars of the festival, which honors Mexico. For the folks of Osaka it is an opportunity to learn of a nation, people, and culture that is often lost among the others in Japan. Osaka has the largest Mexican community in Japan. Local residents say they respect the work ethic and manners displayed by their Mexican friends and neighbors.
30 year old Megumi Nakasone says, “They are so devout in their faith and they always act with politeness. The gentlemen hold doors for ladies and the ladies always smile and greet us when Japanese enter their businesses. They are more like Japanese with their work ethic than the other foreign people in Osaka.”
The smell of pork, chicken and steak sizzling on huge, black grills wafted throughout the festival. Patrons could also buy a "green chile slopper," the consummate Pueblo cheesesteak sandwich. Several people lugged around piƱa coladas served in carved-out pineapples.
The festival continues from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m. Monday, and from 12 p.m. To 7 p.m. Tuesday. West Shinodagawa Park one block from Sumitomo Mitsui bank.

By Paul Schmidt

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