New York will have its first-ever Japan Day Parade on May 14 to honor residents of Japanese descent and their culture.
The parade will see over 1,700 members of the Japanese and Japanese American communities in the New York metropolitan area marching in solidarity.
Actor and activist George Takei will be the grand marshal of the event that organizers originally planned to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics back in 2020.
The parade, which starts at 1 p.m. at Central Park West on 81st St., will have participants marching on a route heading south toward 68th St.
The event will feature live performances by the cast of “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon,” The Super Live, Young People’s Chorus of New York City, Cobu, Soh Daiko, Japanese Folk Dance Institute of NY, 10tecomai, Tate Haroryu, Kyokushin-kaikan and Anime NYC.
As part of the event, a street fair will also operate along 69th St. between Columbus Avenue and Central Park West from 1:00 p.m. to around 4:30 p.m.
On Wednesday, Ambassador Mikio Mori, the Japanese consul-general in New York, spoke about the significance of the parade and how it was originally meant to coincide with the Tokyo Olympics in 2020.
“[The event’s postponed date] creates big momentum to make it better, to celebrate the recovery from the pandemic, as well as appreciation from the Japanese community to the city of New York,” the diplomat said at a press preview.
Based on Census Bureau data, the New York metropolitan area currently has the fourth-largest Japanese population in the U.S. at around 56,000, just behind Honolulu, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
This year’s celebration is said to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the Iwakura Mission, a Japanese diplomatic voyage led by Ambassador Extraordinary and Plenipotentiary Iwakura Tomomi. Tomomi’s visit to the U.S.in 1872 helped improve Japan-U.S. relations and led to the establishment of the consulate in New York.
While the metropolitan area has previously seen celebrations such as the Japan Day festival at Central Park, the parade’s organizers said bringing the festivities to the streets will reach more people.