Japan Day at Central Park

Article By William Kustiono

On Sunday May 12th, it was a beautiful and sunny day to go outside. People walked around Central Park to have a picnic or enjoy the performances by street dancers. That Sunday was a special day for people around the world. It was Mother’s Day. Beside Mother’s Day, it was also a special day for Japanese people. Japan Day Inc. hosted Japan Day Festival at Central Park. Japan Day @ Central Park is a tradition which Japanese festival is hosted once a year in Central Park.

Japanese Chamber of Commerce and Industry of New York, Inc. and The Nippon Club, Inc. collaborated to celebrate the Japan Day Festival. Some famous persons attended this festival were Ambassador Shigeyuki Hiroki of the Consulate-General of Japan in New York and President Yoshimi Inaba, Executive Chairman of Toyota Motor Sales who contributed their efforts to Japan Day Festival.

The Japan Day festival started with a marathon run early in the morning. The Japan Run held its seventh year anniversary this year. There were two types of marathon, adults and children. The adult’s marathon is a 4-Mile Run in the Central Park. It started earlier than the children marathon. This 4-Mile run is also called as Japan Run was held to celebrate traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. Children marathon was available for parents who would like their children also participating in the event. After the Japan Run, there were varieties of Japanese food, activities and stage performances for people to enjoy throughout the day.

MC Sandra Endo

The Japan Day activities started at 10:30am. Japanese enthusiasts could enjoy the activities and food tents provided by Japan Day Inc. There were 7 activities tents presented: Calligraphy, Hello Kitty, Kabuki Face Painting, Language, Origami, YoYo Fishing, and Yukata Try On.

People who would like to experience the art of Japanese writing should go to the calligraphy session. There were professional calligraphy practitioners available to teach and guide people about the writing art. Another interesting tent to visit is Kabuki Face Painting, your face will be painted similar to a Kabuki, a classical Japanese dance drama performed on stage.

If you want to learn some Japanese art of paper folding, you should go to the Origami tent. YoYo Fishing tent provides people with a stick for fishing the Japanese Water Balloon. And the Yukata Try On tent allows you to try different kinds of yukata, summer kimono.

Japanese food lovers should grab a bite at Japanese Food tents provided. There were varieties of food provided such as Gyoza, Miso Soup, Okonomiyaki, Ramen, Snacks, and Tea. You should grab them all and taste them one by one while lying down on the grass. Do not worry about the drinks, there was a free sample of Japanese Tea handed out by the volunteers for people to try on.

The performances in the festival are excellently planned and everything is according to the schedule. The performances were Japanese traditional drumming, Taiko Masala, Japanese SHODO (Calligraphy) by Koki Takehara, A fushion dance between traditional Japanese movement with modern contemporary styles and with influences from other cultures of the world by Yosakoi Dance Project 10tecomai, Home Island Project is a project to raise awareness and promote Shikoku Island to the world, Bonodori, the raucous dance of the summer Bon Festival by The Japanese Folk Dance Institute of NY, Inc, International Karate Organization Kyoukushinkaikan.

Fashion people don’t miss the performance from KOOan_Kosuke Okawa Fashion Designer and CHRONOGENESIS. Kosuke Okawa is a graduate student of Fashion Institute of Technology. He has been on reality TV show “Project Runway Season 10” and he has been working with some artists such as Beyonce, Jazmine Sullivan, and Jonte. Currently he is working at NY garment district in a store called “mood” and planning to launch his own brand called “KOOan”. CHRONOGENESIS is an award winning Louis Vuitton Reconstruction 3.0 art/design collaborative group, CHRONOGENESIS consists of Kumie Asai, David Valencia, Jack Burns, Angelica Lynn Stiskin, and Arthur Hnatek.

Kylee, MINE

Besides fashion shows, Japanese music enthusiast could enjoy varieties of music from Karaoke Talent Competition, R&B/Pop Vocal, and Jazz Vocal. The performers were Diana Garnett, Chris Hart, Nicolas Edwards, The Glory Gospel Singers, Mirei, Kylee, MINE, and Emi Meyer. To spice up the festival, there was a street dance and taiko drumming battle by Kai Rivera/Dynamic Rockers and Soh Daiko.

Overall, there were many things we can enjoy in the Japan Day festival. The music, dances, and especially the food and drinks provided were brilliant and the qualities were magnificent. Ramen and miso lovers should sip a bit, please do not to forget to blow the soup, we know its tasty and you want to try it quickly. Although the queuing lines for the food were long but they were worth the experience. Do not forget to take a picture of this memorable festival in Central Park.

For more info: www.japandaynyc.org

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