If you’d told me a month ago that I’d be eating tacos and watching a Mariachi Band in Japan, I wouldn’t have believed you. Yet, that’s exactly how I started out my weekend – at Fiesta Mexicana in the middle of Umeda, Osaka.
Fiesta Mexicana is an annual festival, usually held mid-September, where everyone is welcome to appreciate and enjoy authentic Mexican food, art, and entertainment. It started several years ago and has since become a permanent event, ‘envisioned as an opportunity for citizen-level exchange to deepen friendship between Japan and Mexico.‘
I arrived at the base of Umeda Sky Building where the festival was taking place around 7:30pm. The festival area was lively and inviting, full of people and energy and the sound of mariachi music playing cheerily in the background.
I’ve never seen Mariachi performers before, so I have nothing to compare the show too, but I – and my fellow visiters in the crowd – really enjoyed it. While the Mariachi band and the traditional folk dancers made the trip out to the festival worthwhile, my favorite part of the night by far was the food.
While my friends stood in line for burritos, I wandered from booth to booth to see what other meals and appetizers were being served. Most venders were selling tacos and cheese quesadillas, but there were also booths selling pozole, elotes, tamales, tostadas and other popular Mexican dishes.
Though I had quite a bit of trouble deciding which booth to choose, I eventually decided to order from a stand selling a dinner set for 1000 Yen, which came with chipotle-seasoned chicken thigh straight off a flaming grill, a side of fajitas, pinto beans, and two flour tortillas. And yes, it was just as delicious as it sounds.
After ordering, my friends and I gathered at a table by the stage, watched a performer sing a ballad in Japanese, sipped on tequila cocktails, and ate our Mexican food with a pair of wooden chopsticks. Multiple times throughout the night, I couldn’t help thinking to myself how peculiar the whole experience was. Though I would never have imagined myself in a situation as strange as that, it’s definitely been one of my favorites so far. If I happen to be in Osaka next September, Fiesta Mexicana is an event I plan on returning to without a doubt – for the ambience, the exceptional performances, and the perfectly grilled chicken.