It would be tough for anything to have to follow up the Cherry Blossom Parade. Sakura Matsuri, a Japanese street festival, was up for the challenge. Covering over six blocks on Pennsylvania Avenue, the festival showed off the very best of Japanese culture from traditional food to entertainment.
A new addition this year was the culinary arts pavilion, which featured cooking demonstrations from three talented chefs. Chef Hironobu Higashijma brought the best from his local Adams Morgan restaurant. The master chef at Perrys taught the audience about cooking Japanese vegetables in an American style.
Another favorite at the festival was Chef Tatsuo Saito, most known for being the star of his cooking show “Dining with the Chef” and for his success cooking at the Japanese embassies in Paris and Washington.
To add to the culinary lessons, Cookpad, a website that translates Japanese dishes into English, showed the audience how to recreate many of the foods found at the festival. There were also plenty of booths selling traditional Japanese street foods like Yakisoba, a noodle dish, or Dango, a sweet rice ball. Beyond the karts and booths selling tasty treats, there were also nearly 30 venders selling a variety of items including the crowd favorite Kimonos and hand-made origami.
Another favorite spot at the festival was a station that offered to teach the basics of the Japanese language. Crowds could be seen lined up outside the performance stages. Favorite performances included the almost 200 martial artists who demonstrated traditional Japanese moves and the wide variety of classic dances.
One of the stages popular with the younger crowd was the J-pop stage, which showcased Japans modern music culture. A highlight included the idol group Le Siana, from Nara City. While it was their United States debut, the girls packed the area with fans. Some fans even admitted travelling from Japan to support them.
Other notable performances included HIDEKING project, a male J-pop group, Kaori a stand-up comedienne that has preformed in both the Tokyo and New York comedy scenes, and the AUN-J Classic Orchestra who did a mix of all genres of music on their traditional Japanese instruments.
From kids to adults, Sakura Matsuri had something to entertain every visitor. Whether you are well-versed in Japanese culture or looking to learn something new, be on the lookout for next year’s festival.