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What's to See and Do

Spring comes to Washington, DC and the cherry blossoms are getting ready to bloom to kick off a second century of friendship between Japan and the United States as represented by Japan’s gift of the cherry blossom trees to America.  Washington will be a “city in bloom,” with the Sakura Matsuri – Japanese Street Festival serving as the grand finale of the greatest springtime celebration in the United States! Southern Living magazine has called Sakura Matsuri the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s “must see event.”

Now in its 53rd year, Sakura Matsuri will fill six square blocks on Pennsylvania Avenue with Japanese culture, vendors, performers, and food on Saturday, April 13 from 10:30 am to 6 pm, right after the Cherry Blossom Festival Parade. There is a small admissions charge of $5, which helps to offset the Festival’s expenses. Children 12 and under are free. Click on the button above to buy your tickets now, or get them at one of the Matsuri’s five entrances.

We are pleased to have so many new participants at the Festival this year.  Our selection of performing artists  includes J-POP group Magverry, dynamic singing duo M’sh, New York-based dance sensation 10tecomai and we celebrate the return of Tamagawa University's 44-member taiko and dance group.  We will have new performing groups showing off the music and dance of Okinawa Prefecture, and are happy to present a kimono show with Atelier Kanawa and the DC Kimono Club.  All these groups and more will perform on three different stages: ANA's Pennsylvania Avenue Stage, McDonald's J-POP stage and the Sakura Stage on 11th Street. Over 200 martial artists will be demonstrating their skills throughout the day.

Special guests this year include NASCAR driver Akinori Ogata; the Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Princesses; and a student shodo (calligraphy) group that will dance as they draw calligraphy on the street!

One of the most popular places at the festival is the Taste of Japan which will host 25 Japanese and Asian restaurants.   Also popular are our two Kirin Beer Stations and the Hakutsuru Sake Tasting Pavilion.

There's an array of Japanese products for sale in both the Ginza Marketplace and Japan Now areas. Among new Japanese vendors this year are Exquisite Tea, a local shop with a wide variety of teas and accessories, and Tomoe Sakura, a vendor selling hand-made Japanese household goods from Iwate, Japan.  We look forward to the return of Minamoto Kitchoan and their delicious wagashi,  Japanese-style confectionaries.

The festival's Arts and Culture section, which features everything from bonsai to doll-making, has almost 30 participants this year.  Wabi Sabi will be joining us for the first time to exhibit the traditional art of Japanese ceramics and we are proud to feature new artisans such as Nishiura style which will be demonstrating the production of spiritual calligraphic talismans, and hand-made jewelry from Olive and Daisy featuring Japanese beads.  The JCAW Foundation is presenting their "Let's Speak Japanese!" booth, and the Children's Corner and Sakura Science Pavilion are returning.

There's so much to see and do at the Sakura Matsuri! Follow us on Facebook and Twitter, and check this website for updates. And when you're at the festival, be sure to pick up the free Sakura Matsuri official program at one of our three information booths or download our mobile app using the QR code on the left!

Sakura Matsuri is sponsored by the Japan-America Society of Washington DC, a 501(c)(3) educational and cultural non-profit organization that works to promote better understanding of Japan and Japanese culture and strengthen friendship between the American and Japanese people.

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