On Saturday, May 13, the Upper West Side will host the second ever New York City Japan Parade and Japan Street Fair. The parade will begin at 1 p.m. on Central Park West and 81st Street and march downtown to 67th Street – with Olympic gold medalist Kristi Yamaguchi serving as Grand Marshall and about ninety groups participating.
The concurrent Japan Street Fair will take place on 72nd Street between Central Park West and Columbus Avenue, and will feature about 25 different tents serving Japanese street food. Activities will include calligraphy, origami, a giveaway, and a booth where attendees can have their photos taken with Hello Kitty!
The parade will feature performances by the cast of Live Spectacle “NARUTO,” a stage-adaptation of the popular Japanese manga series, and performances celebrating traditional and popular Japanese culture. Included in the day’s festivities will be traditional taiko drumming by Soh Daiko, an Upper West Side-based drumming group first established in 1979.
Food samples at a recent preview event included Miyazaki Chicken Namban and Doteni Wagyu beef stew. The street fair will be open from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
While this is only the second Japan Parade, it builds on the success of over ten years of Japan Days hosted in Central Park. Last year’s Grand Marshall, George Takei, said of the upcoming event, “It’s going to be an exciting day. It’s going to be a delicious day. It’s going to be an interesting day of Japanese culture.”
While the primary objectives of the event, per the planners, are “to celebrate and further promote friendship between U.S. and Japan, to express gratitude to New York City, and to strengthen the solidarity of the Japanese-American community,” there is also a philanthropic element. As part of the event, donations will be collected for victims of the war in Ukraine and communities affected by the recent earthquakes in Turkey and Syria.
“The fact that it’s on the West Side is very special to me,” said District 6 Council Member Gale Brewer. “We want to show what Japanese people are doing, what Japanese people are thinking, and what Japanese people can bring to New York City,” said Japanese Ambassador Mikio Mori.
With food, performances, activities and more, this parade and street fair will certainly bring a sense of the above to the Upper West Side! To learn more, visit japanparadenyc.org.