Sunday, May 31, 2009

Japan Day 05-31-2009

Location: East Meadow, Central Park
Time: 1pm
People: A lot of people

Feelings: I heard a lot about Japan Day last year, which drew a crowd of an estimated 40,000 people to the festival. Japan Day is run by the Japanese community of NYC to promote Japanese culture and tradition. It was such a huge success last year that my parents in Osaka heard about it and asked me if I participated. Unfortunately, I didn't, so this year, I was determined to at least stop by for an hour or two.

They had a great mixture of traditional and modern Japanese activities such as Robot Sumo Battle, Shogi, YoYo Fishing, Tea Ceremony and "Take picture with Hello Kitty!" (all free.) On the main stage, various music groups were performing both traditional Japanese summer festival dance called "bonodori" and J-pop. They also had booths full of free food like gyoza, ramen, udon, gyudon and miso soup. All the lines were far too long, so we decided to just walk around and score some free tasty Ito-En Jasmine iced tea.

It was nice to see a lot of New Yorkers showing great interests in Japanese culture and cuisine. I thought the Japanese community was doing a great job promoting both modern and traditional sides of the country. That's the thing about Japanese culture. We don't have a parade or march the streets saying that we are proud of our culture. We instead give away free food and really want people to understand who we are. Through the cultural exchange, it is our hope that this will eventually bring a deeper understanding of each other. I thought the concept of Japan Day was so brilliantly Japanese that made me happy and proud that I am from Japan. Of course, expressing these sentiments out loud is totally not Japanese, so I will shut up now before my mother complains.

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