Featured on Access Atlanta, JapanFest's two-day festival gives crowds of more than 17,000 people a chance to taste varied Japanese cuisine, watch live performances from Japanese musicians and artists, and practice traditional arts in hands-on exhibits. The tunes of Grammy-winning recording artist Yukiko Matsuyama, whose compositions feature the traditional stringed koto, drift through the air as festival-goers watch the hands of professional calligrapher Kotaro Hachinohe bring a large paint-sodden brush down on paper in bold strokes. Pairs of guests can practice the art of petal positioning at the Japanese flower-arranging exhibit, then carefully prune miniature trees at the bonsai demonstration, pruning branches as gingerly as generals clipping budding turrets from the potted tanks in their offices. A range of other participants fills the center's showroom, including anime collectors, kimono crafters, and sake sellers. After perusing the swarm of exhibitors, visitors can reboot with traditional Japanese fare from vendors such as Kotobuki Cafe and Sushi Niko Niko.
Sprawled across a huge field in Fairburn, roughly 13 miles southwest of the Hartsfield-Jackson Airport, the festival teems with life, noise, and the PG-13 debauchery of nearly 1,000 costumed rakes, harlequins, ne'er-do-wells, knights, wenches, and the ever unpredictable royal treasury accountants. Catch jousting, falconry shows, and surprise inquisitions to make sure you're having a good time. Take up a sword and have a blast repressing the local Irish, or dress up your niece and nephew for a crusade to bring endless laughter and good times to frowny infidels. On the weekend of April 24 and 25, visitors can enjoy Irish dancing and a highlander pipe-and-drum band, while on Mother's Day weekend (May 8 and 9), the first 100 moms through the gate will receive free flowers.
In addition to the sense of perseverance and accomplishment that comes with finishing a 5K, the organizers of the Bacon Chase have added another incentive: bacon. During their two races?the 5K Piggy Pilgrimage, which is a traditional 5K, and the 0.05K Blitz to Bacon, which is a 164-foot sprint?runners can munch on unlimited bacon bits before feasting on unlimited amounts of bacon at the finish line. Runners 21 and older can wash down the savory strips of bacon with a bloody mary, and all runners get a Bacon Chase T-shirt and a signature bacon-scented bib. The festival opens at 8 a.m. and features many bacon-themed activities, plus music.
The festive day serves a greater purpose, too. Attendees will be able to register to become a St. Jude Hero, raise money for St. Jude Children?s Research Hospital, or both.
Originally opened in 1927, the Genesee Theatre slowly deteriorated over the course of the century until its closing in 1989. But starting in 2001, a $23 million cash infusion from the city allowed 120 volunteers to restore the theater to its Gilded Age splendor. Its elegant trappings include authentic wall fabrics, an exact replica of the original marquee, and a 2,200-pound chandelier that gently spotlights the grand lobby and every audience member passing underneath to show how everyone is a star if you really think about it.
Since banding together in 1979, the historians at Atlanta Preservation Center have helped ward off packs of angry bulldozers from more than 175 endangered buildings. Working alongside local government, businesses, and community leaders, the preservation team has saved elaborate structures including the Peters House and Winecoff Hotel. In addition, its headquarters—the 1856 Grant Mansion in Grant Park—is one of just three antebellum houses left in Atlanta and the team is currently working to restore the building to its architecturally accurate origins. When it isn’t keeping delicate treasures from crumbling, the Atlanta Preservation Center leads walking tours of historic areas and tells embarrassing stories from the days when the city’s buildings were just a bunch of baby bricks.