The Japanese Street Festival returns to DC, expanding to 2 days for the first time
“We’re bringing the street festival here to the nation’s capital to really showcase some of the deep bonds that exist between the two countries,” said festival director Colette Fozard.
To mark its grand 60th anniversary, the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival expanded from a one-day to a two-day festival this year, featuring food, music and a market to celebrate the cherry blossoms.
Sponsored by the Japan-America Society of Washington, DC, it features music, performances, a market and lots of traditional Japanese food.
“We’re bringing the street festival here to the country’s capital to really show some of the deep ties that exist between the two countries,” said festival director Colette Fozard.
She estimated that about 35,000 people attended the festival on Saturday.
They had four stages with performances and several food and market vendors. They also had two special pavilions this year.
“One of them is ‘Beyond Tokyo Regions of Japan’ and you’re basically learning about other areas in Japan that you can visit. And then also our “Smart Infrastructure” pavilion, which highlights many of the investments that Japanese companies are making in American infrastructure and also many of the new technologies that they are not only developing in Japan but also bringing to America,” said fozard.
Virginia’s Jennifer Sipat stood at the food line for a portion of yakitori. She enjoyed “the vendors and all the people watching with everyone in their costumes,” she said.
Arlington’s Justin Fisher loved to learn “about sake, which has been my favorite so far, different kinds of sake. I learn a lot about it and I enjoy it.”
The festival takes place on Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th Streets with the US Capitol in the background.
Dorian Elie has big plans to visit Japan one day, so he enjoyed exploring the festival: “I love Japanese culture and everything. I’m a huge anime nerd,” he said.
Aside from the drum and dance performances, he said he loved a lot of the food vendors there, with traditional dishes like “chicken balls and beef on a skewer and it was just incredibly delicious.”
Fozard enjoyed seeing all the people walking the streets learning about Japan.
“We were really excited to see how many people came,” she said.
Jazmyne Carter said she’s looking forward to going shopping. At the festival she bought her first kimono.
“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. Standing in one of the food lines, he couldn’t wait to try something from the kitchen.
“I didn’t know it was going on and we had an open Sunday and decided to come over and 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 is a fun way to relive some of his favorite moments.
“It’s been a great time being here, celebrating and learning,” said Robert.
His wife Susan said: “We thought it would be a fun event for our families and we’re having a great time.”