By Lisa Kava
New York City’s first-ever Japan Parade, organized by a non-profit organization called Japan Day Inc., will take place on the Upper West Side on Saturday, May 14th, from 1PM-3:30 PM.
The parade will begin on Central Park West and 81st Street and travel south, ending at Central Park West and 68th Street. Actor George Takei will be the Grand Marshal.
The parade will include performances by members of the Japanese Folk Dance Institute and the Young People’s Chorus of NYC among others. A street fair is planned from 1:00-4:30 PM on 67th Street between Central Park West and Columbus. The fair will feature food tents and activity tents introducing Japanese culture, Yui Shafer, one of the event planners helping to organize the parade, told West Side Rag.
Who better to introduce NYC’s first-ever Japan Parade than Grand Marshal George Takei?
The parade had originally been planned for May 2020, but was cancelled because of the COVID-19 pandemic. The 2020 date was meant to commemorate both the 160th anniversary of the first Japanese delegation’s visit to the United States, and the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
The parade was rescheduled for May 14th, 2022. The new date marks the 150th anniversary of Ambassador Iwakura Tomomi’s visit to NYC, which ultimately led to the establishment of the Japanese consulate in New York, according to the event website. The year 2022 also marks the 150th anniversary of the introduction of baseball to Japan from the United States.
The Japan Parade’s promotional materials (the official program, T-shirts, and posters) feature the winners of an art contest where artists and the general public were invited to submit their work earlier this year.
The parade replaces a past event called “Japan Day @Central Park,” which had been held annually in Central Park from 2007-2019. That event celebrated Japanese culture, art, tradition, and food at the Central Park Bandshell every year on a Saturday in May.
“We are delighted to bring this two-year project to fruition. The purpose of the Japan Parade is to further promote friendship between the U.S. and Japan, to express gratitude to New York City, and to strengthen the solidarity of the Japanese-American community on this milestone anniversary.”
For more information on the May 14th Japan Parade on Central Park West click here.