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JapanFest to be held in Duluth this weekend

DULUTH -- The 25th annual JapanFest has returned to the Convention Center at Gwinnett Center this Saturday and Sunday to celebrate the Japanese culture through food, music, clothes and more. the festival is organized by The Japan-America Society of Georgia, the Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Georgia and the Consulate General of Japan to promote and educate others about Japanese traditions and lifestyle.

IF YOU GO

• What: JapanFest

• When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., Sunday

• Where: Convention Center at Gwinnett Center, 6400 Sugarloaf Parkway, Duluth

• Cost: $8 for adults at event, $9.19 if bought online, children age 6 and under are free

• For more information: visit www.japanfest.org

"In the Southeast, there's nothing like it," Joseph Huntemann of the Consulate General of Japan said. "There are great performers and food that you couldn't find anywhere else for a price you couldn't get anywhere else. Many things are shipped over from Japan."

With the anticipation of more than 17,000 people attending the event, organizers have lined up a plethora of performers, workshops, artists and martial arts for the public to watch.

Featured in this year's schedule are two performers and one star: Yukiko Matsuyama, Kotaro Hachinohe and Akinora Ogata.

Matsuyama is a Grammy award winning Japanese Koto player -- a 13-string harp -- will be performing her blend of jazz, pop, new age and world music at 4 p.m. on Saturday and noon on Sunday.

Hachinohe or "Hatch" is a Japanese calligrapher who learned his trait while studying at the Kyoto University of Art and Design. He will present a demonstration of his large scale calligraphy on noon Saturday and 1 p.m. Sunday as well as a workshop.

NASCAR's only Japanese driver Akinora Ogata will be in attendence with his racecar, signing autographs and entertaining children with activities at his booth.

This year, JapanFest will donate 100 percent of revenue from ticket package sales to earthquake and tsunami relief efforts in Japan. There will also be donation collections at the event.