“We are bringing the street festival here to the nation’s capital to really show some of the deep ties that exist between the two countries,” said festival director Colette Fozard.
For its big 60th anniversary, Japan’s Sakura Matsuri street festival has been transformed from a one-day festival to a two-day festival this year, featuring food, music and a market to celebrate the cherry blossoms.
It is sponsored by the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC, and features music, shows, a market, and plenty of traditional Japanese dining options.
“We’re bringing the street festival here to the nation’s capital to really show some of the deep ties that exist between the two countries,” said festival director Colette Fozard.
She estimated around 35,000 people attended the festival on Saturday.
They had four performance stages and several food and market vendors. They also had two specialty lodges this year.
“One is ‘Beyond Tokyo’s Regions in Japan’, and you’ll basically learn about other parts of Japan to visit. And then also our “Smart Infrastructure” pavilion, which highlights a lot of the investments that Japanese companies are making in American infrastructure, as well as a lot of the new technologies that they’re developing not just in Japan, but also to bring to America,” Fozard said.
Jennifer Sipat from Virginia was in line to get a serving of Yakitori. She appreciated “the vendors and all the people watching with everyone in their costumes,” she said.
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The festival takes place on Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th Streets, with the United States Capitol building as a backdrop.
Dorian Elie has big plans to visit Japan one day, so he enjoyed exploring the festival: “I really like Japanese culture and everything. I’m a big anime fan,” he said.
Aside from the drumming and dancing shows, he said he liked lots of food vendors with traditional dishes like “a chicken dumpling and beef on a skewer and it was just delicious.”
Fozard enjoyed seeing all the people walking the streets and discovering Japan.
“We’ve been really excited to see how many people are coming out,” she said.
Jazmyne Carter said she was excited to go shopping. She bought her first kimono at the festival.
“It’s always been my dream to go to Japan, especially Kyoto, and see the cherry blossoms there,” Carter said.
Marko Iwashita is Japanese and lives in Ashburn, Virginia. He stood in one of the food queues and was eager to try the cuisine.
“I didn’t know this was happening and we had an open Sunday and decided to come check it out,” Iwashita said.
Robert Northcutt lives in Silver Spring and came to DC for the festival. He has visited Japan in the past and said the festival was a fun way to relive some of his favorite moments.
“Being here celebrating and learning was a great time,” Robert said.
His wife Susan said: “We thought it would be a fun event to do with our families and we are having a great time.