Performers at the Festival
Performers from all over the country and Japan come to the Sakura Matsuri to bring over 20 hours of live musical and dance performances on three stages: ANA's Riverfront Stage in the Northwest corner of the Matsuri, the Sakura Stage in the Northeast corner and our J-POP stage, in the Southwest corner.
In addition, over 200 martial artists will be demonstrating their skills all day on the Martial Arts stage in the Southeast corner of the Matsuri.
Keep checking back as we bring you some late-breaking surprises!
Performers from Japan
What is ‘’Daidengaku’’? Originally, the term dengaku referred to the rice-planting festivities observed throughout Japan in which rural residents performed traditional dances. From the 11th to the 16th centuries, these dances were introduced in Kyoto and other cities, where they were well received and enjoyed great popularity. Nevertheless, over time, these dances virtually disappeared until Mannojo Nomura (1959-2004) resurrected them when he created a more widely appealing and more contemporary form of these dances. Since then, daidengaku has appeared in many historical television dramas and has been performed at prestigious events all over the world, including the Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington DC in 2012, and the NISEI WEEK Japanese Festival in Los Angeles in 2015. Please enjoy colors of our clothes, unique rhythm and dance!
The mascot of NHK World will be making his second trip to Washington, DC - he had so much fun last year he can't wait to come back! He will be appearing at the NHK World TV booth. Come give Domo a big hug to welcome him back to Washington and get your photo taken with him! Domo can be seen on NHK WORLD TV, the stand-alone 24-hour, English-language television news and lifestyle network brought to you by Japan’s sole public, independent public broadcaster.
DOMO-kun, TIME AFTER TIME CAPSULE
Join in the creative fun with Kawaii International’s art director Sebastian Masuda and his DOMO-kun, TIME AFTER TIME CAPSULE project. Under collaboration with NHK Kawaii International, DOMO-kun, TIME AFTER TIME CAPSULE will travel across the US and the first stop for him is our Sakura Matsuri! We encourage attendees of all ages to come to the workshop tent and create a piece to drop into the capsule. DOMO-kun is looking forward to seeing you all soon!
Kanadete sorou is a rockband founded by the leader, Koni. Later he was joined by the vocalist Oyumi, the guitarist Chiaki, and drummer Kentarou, appearing as a group of four. They perform live with the historical background of the Meiji and Taisho Eras, dressed in traditional Japanese clothing such as kimono and hakama. They are a unique band mixing tradition with modernity. They write their own lyrics and music which are inspired by Japanese folklore and traditional tales and novels, with the wonderful modern rock sound. They are happy to be back at the Sakura Matsuri this year and are excited to let you know that this year they will give an even more amazing performance with their friends the Yoshiwara Kitsune Shachu! Come see their unforgettable shared stage!
Tamagawa University Dance and Taiko Group
It is our annual honor to welcome Tamagawa University Dance and Taiko Group to the Sakura Matsuri. Their thundering taiko drumming merged with traditional Japanese dancing is a perennial favorite! Enjoy the new performances of drummers and dancers from Tamagawa University, one of the top-ranking taiko groups in Japan who are students at Japan's top performing arts university.
Yoshino Bien Calligraphy Performance with Traditional Kagura
Meet the calligraphy artist/teacher from Japan who will perform calligraphy on a big paper and conduct workshops. She will also write any words on a beautiful Japanese paper for sale.
Yoshiwara Kitsune Shachu
The tradition of the 'Yoshiwara Kitsune-mai' (Yoshiwara fox dance) came from the Yoshiwara district of Tokyo during the Edo period. The fox dance appeared without warning on one New Year's Eve to celebrate the coming of the new year and to emphasize the importance of winter. The image of the group dancing brilliantly while wearing Japanese-style white fox masks, wrapped in vibrant formal kimono and skillfully wielding a fan in one hand and a bell in the other, charmed everyone in the town. Even world renowned ukiyo-e artist Hokusai Katsushika left wonderful art of them behind. It’s been said that just seeing the foxes dancing energetically to traditional “Japanese festival music” (played with instruments like the flute, taiko drums, and handbells) made happiness bloom in the hearts of the people. However, this wonderful tradition began to fade as we neared modernity. Now, the team “Yoshiwara Kitsune Shachu,” formed in 2011, is trying to resurrect this wonderful tradition and folklore, tailored for modern times.
Culinary Arts Pavilion
Our Culinary Arts Pavilion will feature several Japanese chefs demonstrating how to cook Japanese food throughout the day!
Chef Rika - With thanks to NHK World, we are pleased to present Chef Rika Yukimasa, star of their cooking show Dining with the Chef as one of our demonstrators! She will be demonstrating how to make gyudon, a beef rice bowl.
We are also pleased to welcome donabe and Japanese cooking expert, Naoko Takei Moore who will be traveling from Los Angeles to demonstrate how to cook with the Japanese clay pot, donabe. Her cookbook, DONABE - Classic and Modern Clay Pot Cooking was published by Ten Speed Press in October, 2015 and has been receiving accolades from both media and people. Find her recipes here!
Furthermore, we are excited to introduce Chef Yokote. Chef Yokote immigrated to the U.S. from Japan and enrolled at the Culinary Institute of America. Upon graduating he split his time between working in New York City and traveling back home to Japan to study different culinary techniques. Before moving to the nation’s capital, he was executive chef at Blue Ribbon Sushi when it was voted Best New Restaurant in Brooklyn by TimeOut magazine. Chef Yokote has been the executive chef at notable restaurants including Makoto, Sushi Taro and currently Perrys Restaurant in Adams Morgan. When he's not working, he enjoys swimming and spending time with his wife and son. Find his recipes here!
Here is a list of all of our performing groups for this year - click on their name to go to their website for more information!
2016 National Japan Bowl
To commemorate the 5th anniversary of the Tohoku earthquake and tsunami, the participants at the 2016 National Japan Bowl, a nationwide Japanese Language and Culture Competition for High School Students organized by JASW, will be joined by the Japan Commerce Association of Washington DC Foundation to sing the song "Hana wa Saku."
2une ( pronounced "Tune") is a New-York-City-based idol collaboration duo from Japan and the US. 2une consists of 2 members, Uno from Japan and Sneko from the US.
Anaguma Eisa: UW-Madison's Okinawan Taiko Club
Anaguma Eisa is a student organization at the University of Wisconsin-Madison that performs エイサー (eisa), a form of Okinawan folk dance which combines elements of dance, taiko, martial arts and Okinawan music.
Anime USA Cosplay Fashion Show
Anime USA, Washington DC's anime convention that takes place in the fall, displays Japanese anime inspired costumes to teach about anime and cosplay culture.
Entertainment rock show with J-Rock and anime song covers from your favorites!
Cherry Blossoms Dance Team
Students from Japan and the Washington DC area will dance with fans and pompoms.
Chinagu Eisa Hawaii
Chinagu Eisa Hawaii is a local contemporary Okinawan Eisa drumming club. Their mission is to promote and prepetuate the Okinawan culture to the community and to future generations. The club performs to traditional and modern music through dynamic and energetic choreography.
Chino Daiko promotes 'Peace through understanding each other's culture.' As the Ryukyu spirit fills you, enjoy the beat of the taiko drums, the elegance of eisa, the excitement of the shisa, as well as some modern surprises along the way!
Fox Mill Elementary Japanese Immersion Students
Students from Fox Mill Elementary School will sing Japanese songs to share their love of the language and culture.
Kaori is a Japanese stand up comedian who believes humor is a wonderful tool to communicate with people all over the world and to overcome various language barriers. Join her at the Sakura Matsuri to enjoy “Cool Japan” comedy which is made in Japan!
Keisho Center - J-Pops from the 9th to 21st Centuries
Washington Japanese Heritage Center will sing songs of Japan from 9th to 21st centuries to celebrate this occasion. Songs help children form linguistic foundations and, when sung well, will become lifetime, cultural and nostalgic assets.
Washington DC Kimono Club
The Washington DC Kimono Club will demonstrate a gorgeous kimono fashion show and a dressing demonstration using different types of kimono - entertaining and educational!
KuroPOP is a New-York-City-based Japanese Pop performance group that specializes in Japanese and Korean pop songs. So come join us as they dance and sing - you might even learn a dance or two!
Japanese trio from New York who sing high-spirited, energetic J-Rock!
Mark H Taiko
Mark H Taiko presents a lively performance of kumi-daiko (Japanese drumming as an ensemble) featuring the newest local taiko group, Miyako Taiko.
NCSS 2016 Cherry Blossom Queens and Princesses
Come meet the Japanese Cherry Blossom Queen, American Cherry Blossom Queen and the 2016 Cherry Blossom Princesses from the states, territories, and international embassies and enjoy their trivia contest!
Enjoy the performance of a mix of traditional festival songs as well as more contemporary compositions that use taiko, fue (bamboo flute), and other narimono (percussion instruments).
NY Suwa Taiko
This ensemble includes the NY Taiko Aikokai Group, Sakura Group, and the Biwanko Group. We perform Japanese Traditional Suwa Taiko from Nagano, Japan and classical style Japanese dance.
Okinawa Cultural Performance
For the Sakura Matsuri, our performances will include a variety of dance and song. We have performers from the Washington D.C. area and Uechi ryu karate members traveling from Okinawa, Japan. Relax and enjoy this ensemble from classical court, okinawan bon, and lively children's dance (warabincha), to live music and Karate performances.
Okinawan Taiko Drummers of Wisconsin
High school students from Madison, Wisconsin will perform both modern and traditional Okinawan Taiko Drumming. They are proud to be starting their second decade of performing at the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade and at the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival.
Poku Poku Boys
Poku Poku Boys is a New York mash-up of Japanese traditions with jazz, funk, and other musical styles from around the globe.
Shodo (Calligraphy) Performances
Teams of students from both Thomas Jefferson High School and The College of William and Mary will do street performances of calligraphy on a giant sheet of paper (9x16ft) with dance and music.
Soran Bushi - AU & UMCP & SUNY Geneseo
Soran Bushi (ソーラン節) is a traditional co-ed Japanese dance from Hokkaido that portrays fishermen at work. It is a very popular dance commonly taught in schools all throughout Japan.
The following martial arts demonstrations will take place throughout the day on our Martial Arts Stage:
Aikido of Arlington
Demonstration of a variety of techniques, including what to do to gain control if being attacked. They will also show weapons (jos/bokkens) and open handed techniques.
Capital Area Budokai
- Shukoten Naginata-kai
This group will highlight various aspects of Naginata practices including basic and advanced forms as well as sparring in Bogu (protective body armor).
Capital Area Jodokai
The Capital Area Jodokai will show a 400-year-old art, Shindo Muso Ryu-jo, which illustrates the use of a a staff versus the Japanese sword. We will also demonstrate affiliated arts showcasing jutte, kusarigama, tanjo and swords.
Hobyokan - Yagyu Shinkage-ryu, Shindo Muso-ryu, Jiki Shinkage-ryu
We will be demonstrating classical swordsmanship and a variety of other weapons systems created by the samurai during the 16th and 17th centuries.
Kageshin Dojo - Ninpo Taijutsu
Everyone knows of ninja, but not everyone knows what their martial art was truly composed of. Don’t miss this chance to see a display of shinobi and samurai martial arts skills.
KenKonKai Dojo - Japanese Sword Martial Arts
Part of the Capital Area Budokai and Jodokai, appreciate a demonstration of Japanese sword kata and cutting from Nakamura Ryu Batto-o and Mugai Ryu Iaihyo-do.
Ten Shin Ichi Ryu
A demonstration of traditional Japanese karate forms, sword and kendo. Demonstrations given by our founder, Shintaku Soshu, along with TSIR students of all experience levels.
Tenshin Shoden Katori Shinto Ryu
Beginning with solo sword-drawing forms, the group then demonstrates working in pairs to demonstrate prearranged sword, staff, naginata, and spear forms.
Virginia Kyudo Renmei
Come to watch a continuous rotation of group archery shooting (embu no dose) demonstrating the individual and group dynamics which kyudo demands of its practitioners.