By Peggy Taylor
Kenju Murakami, deputy consul general, couldn’t contain his excitement as he donned the Japanese traditional men’s festive garment, the Happi, in anticipation of New York City’s first-ever Japan Parade, taking place at 1 p.m. Saturday on Central Park West from 81st to 68th Streets.
“There will be 2,400 participants, live performances, floats, ladies in kimonos, and traditional samurai led by the Grand Marshal, [Star Trek] actor George Takei,” the deputy consul said.
Takei was quoted in the Daily News as saying, “I’m boldly going where no one else has gone before.”
But the Parade will not only celebrate Japan/U.S. friendship and Japan’s wide-ranging culture, art, and traditions. “It will also showcase Japan’s solidarity with other Asian nations as we celebrate AAPI (Asian American and Pacific Islanders) Month and join forces against Asian hate,” Mr. Murakami said. Other Asian groups will also participate, as will a group from Ukraine, in another sign of solidarity.
“This year also celebrates the 150th anniversary of the introduction of baseball to Japan from the U.S., which remains very popular to this day,” according to AAARI.
The Opening Ceremony will take place at 12:30 p.m. on Central Park West between 70th and 71st Streets. The parade will begin on Central Park West and 81st Street at 1 p.m. and travel south, ending at Central Park West and 68th Street. A street fair will round out the festivities on 69th Street between Central Park West and Columbus.
Correction: The quote in the fourth paragraph has been attributed to Kenju Murakami.