May 5, 2017 National Cherry Blossom Festival Finale

A Season for the Blossoming Japan-US Friendship

The National Cherry Blossom Festival, the largest celebration of Japan-US friendship, has come to a close in Washington, DC. At a recent Embassy event Ambassador Sasae recounted “Sasae’s Law,” his observation that “the National Cherry Blossom Festival gets bigger and better and more fun every 12 months.” This year was no exception!

The National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade brought thousands of DC residents and visitors out to cheer and take in the sights and sounds. Ambassador Sasae and Mrs. Sasae joined Japanese and US musicians, dancers, and performers as the procession made its way down Constitution Avenue. All Nippon Airways, NHK mascot DOMO, and the Cherry Blossom Queens and Princesses also helped make the parade a huge success.

You can check out more photos from the parade here:
https://www.flickr.com/photos/japanembdc/sets/72157679687868583

Reflecting the rise of Japanese language study, this year’s Japan Bowl was also bigger than ever! Just one day before the parade, 160 high school students from across the US made their way to DC for the competition’s 25th year. They came to prove the depth of their knowledge of Japanese language and culture and possibly win a trip to Japan. Education Counselor Seto expressed his excitement for the contest as well as the record high of 170,000 people who are now studying Japanese in the US.

Learn more about the Japan Bowl here: http://www.japanbowl.org/

The festivities this year “peaked” with the Sakura Matsuri street festival. Building upon the success of last year, the 2017 festival brought over 25,000 people to the all-day celebration of Japanese culture. Visitors were treated to Japanese musical performances, martial arts demonstrations, and cultural experiences. Over 100 exhibitions, activities and performers were onsite for the event.

Our own Japan Information & Culture Center booth offered passport-shaped information books on Japan and Japan-themed photo opportunities. The Japan Exchange and Teaching Program booth passed out stickers, pens, and pamphlets highlighting their exchange program which allows US citizens to live and work in Japan. Huge crowds also lined up at booths selling Japanese food and products to take a piece of Japan home with them.

According to Sasae’s Law the celebration of Japan-US friendship is only going to get bigger and better next year! However, it’s not all over yet! Cherry Blossom events are continuing at the Japan Information & Culture Center, with the "Meet Netsuke! Storytellers of Japan" exhibition running through May 15! There will be a great last chance to check it out on May 15 from 6:30pm, when the Grand Finale “Netsuke's Journey - Across Time, Across Borders” will take place!

Registration is required to attend. Please register here:
https://www.eventbrite.com/e/exhibition-grand-finale-netsukes-journey-across-time-across-borders-registration-33631698315