Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival

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Street Festival Set up

If you stuck around after the Cherry Blossom Parade like we did on Saturday, April 14th, then you would’ve had the chance to check out the 58th Annual Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival.

Quickly after the parade ended, the clean up crew rushed in to clear off the streets and created a barricade on Pennsylvania Avenue between 3rd and 7th Streets. Before we went to the festival, we took a walk to the Washington Monument and then came back. The event started around 12 pm but we didn’t get there until shortly after 1 pm.

Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival Stamp of entry.
Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival Stamp of entry.

The festival is hosted by the Japan-American Society of Washington D.C. In order to gain access, we paid $10 for entry, submitted to a brief security search (If you had a large bag) and got a stamp on the hand. The line wasn’t long to get in and it moved quickly. Very smooth process and the volunteers were great. 

Attending a Street Festival in Washington D.C.

IT. WAS. CROWDED…and it got more crowded by the hour.

Japanese Street Festival crowd in 2018 Washington D.C.

Once inside, there were information booths close by with event volunteers giving directions as well as handing out itinerary pamphlets. If you grabbed a copy, it contained a map of the event layout as well as all of the booths in attendance. This was super helpful and needed.

So…we tackled the event by walking with the flow of the crowd. There were stages set up in different sections, each hosting a different act. This included martial arts performances, an informational about Japanese culture, children’s performances, and k-pop to name a few.

SEE ALSO: National Cherry Blossom Parade in Washington D.C.

After walking for a while and stopping to look at the performances along the way, we ventured to the Taste of Japan section.  The food smelled amazing! There was Japanese and a very small area of Western Style Food.

The lines were definitely long, which is to be expected, but it was great and tasted even better. Worth the wait. The only downside is there were not a lot of places to sit down to eat your food if you got something that wasn’t on a stick. As an alternative, many people gathered in groups and found space on the ground to eat since the few chairs they had were already taken.

Continuing through the event, there were many craft stations and goodies to choose and buy from. I stopped at the Nishiura Style booth where Master Nishiura demonstrated his brushwork. He effortlessly created a free art piece for any individual that asked. With perfect strokes, he wishes you happiness and prosperity.  A man of few words but a great piece to have.

Master Nishiura at National Cherry Blossom Parade
Master Nishiura at National Cherry Blossom Parade

There were many other stations you could stop by as well to learn more about the Japanese culture. After all, this is why we are celebrating!

Closing Thoughts

We stayed for about 2 hours and then due to a strict schedule, left for home. The event was a lot of fun and a great way to immerse yourself in Japanese culture.

The Japanese Street Festival continued on to about 6 pm. Luckily, if you needed a break or wanted to leave and come back, the event made it easy to do just that. If you are to attend next year, I would recommend first,  getting the map of performance times and events, plan out what you want to see and go and come as you please. There’s a lot to see, and it gets a bit overwhelming without a plan.

I’d say the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival was a successful event. Although it was crowded and due to the heat, a seat somewhere not on the hot asphalt would have been preferred, I would still attend again. However, as I suggested, I would plan ahead and check the performances I’d like to see and only come back for that.

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National Cherry Blossom Parade

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