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Japan-Related Celebrations in the United States

Enjoy Japanese Culture in the United States

The strong and lasting friendship between the United States and Japan is bolstered not only by strategic military considerations and historical connections, but also community ties. Communities throughout the United States hold Japan-related celebrations inspired by traditional festivals (matsuri), in efforts to strengthen bonds between both nations. These celebrations also serve as learning opportunities for individuals curious about or interested in Japan and Japanese culture, as they often offer activities, performances, demonstrations, and delicious food.

Springtime celebrations of Japanese cherry blossom (sakura) trees have experienced tremendous popularity in the United States. Crowds flock across the country to witness the beauty of the blooming sakura, a symbol now synonymous with the arrival of spring. The most historic of these celebrations is the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, D.C., a festival that traces its roots back to 1927 as a commemoration of the gift of more than 3,000 cherry blossom trees sent from Japan in 1912. Ever since, cherry blossom celebrations have grown larger in scale and number throughout the nation. Macon, Georgia, known as the “Cherry Blossom Capital of the World,” holds the International Cherry Blossom Festival every March, when the city’s 300,000+ cherry blossom trees bloom. Cherry blossom festivals also take place in Seattle, Nashville, Philadelphia, San Francisco, and more.

Other festivals take inspiration from Japanese cultural traditions, like lantern festivals, traditional New Year’s celebrations, or the Buddhist summer Bon Festival. With the explosion in popularity of Japanese pop culture, conventions have also gained prominence in recent years, attracting fans of anime, manga, J-pop, and more. Some cities also commemorate their relationship with their Japanese sister cities through special celebrations. For example, Newport, Rhode Island and its sister city Shimoda, Japan, both celebrate an annual Black Ships Festival, while Cupertino, California, celebrates and promotes its sister city relationship with Toyokawa, Japan, through an annual cherry blossom festival.

Below, you can find a list of annual Japan-related festivals and celebrations throughout the United States. The list is not comprehensive, so be sure to stay on the lookout for other possible events in your area.

Know of an event we missed? Send us the details:  JUMProgram@spfusa.org.

(Washington D.C. photo by Joy Champaloux.)

Japan-Related Festivals in the United States

If you would like to submit an event to our list, please e-mail us at jump@spfusa.org.

Northeast

Upcoming Events
April 4-5, 2020: Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival [Philadelphia, PA]
Past Events
April 27-28, 2019: Brooklyn Botanic Garden Sakura Matsuri [New York City, NY]
April 27-28, 2019: Japan Festival Boston [Boston, MA]
May 1-5, 2019: Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival [Buffalo, NY]
May 5, 2019: Cherry Blossom Friendship Festival [Fairhaven, MA]
May 12, 2019: Japan Day [New York City, NY]
August 9-11, 2019: Black Ships Festival [Newport, RI]
October 5, 2019: Pittsburgh Dragon Boat Festival [Pittsburgh, PA]
 

Southeast

Upcoming Events
December, 2019: JASG Bonenkai Holiday [Atlanta, GA]
January 2020: Japanese New Year’s Festival [Washington, DC]
January 12, 2020: New Year’s Festival [Delray Beach, FL]
March 3, 2020: Japan Day at Old Dominion University [Norfolk, VA]
March 27-April 5, 2020: International Cherry Blossom Festival [Macon, GA]
Past Events
March 16, 2019: Birmingham Cherry Blossom Festival [Birmingham, AL]
April 6-7, 2019: Hatsume Fair [Delray Beach, FL]
March 20 – April 14, 2019: National Cherry Blossom Festival [Washington, DC]
April 13, 2019: Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival [Washington, DC]
April 13, 2019: Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival [Nashville, TN]
May 24, 2019: Daikin Festival [Decatur, AL]
June 22, 2019: Tampa Natsumatsuri [Tampa, FL]
August 3, 2019: NC Japan Summer Festival [Raleigh, NC]
August 3, 2019: Charlotte Bon Odori [Charlotte, NC]
August 25, 2019: Greenville Bon Dance Festival [Greenville, SC]
September 21-22, 2019: JapanFest [Atlanta, GA]
September 29, 2019: Memphis Japanese Festival [Memphis, TN]
October 19, 2019: Lantern Festival [Delray Beach, FL]
 

Midwest

Upcoming Events
March 3, 2020: Dublin Japanese Festival [Dublin, OH]
Past Events
May 19, 2019: Fort Wayne Cherry Blossom Festival [Fort Wayne, IN]
June 16, 2019: Japan Festival Chicago [Chicago, IL]
August 9-11, 2019Ginza Holiday Festival [Chicago, IL]
August 18, 2019: Como Park Japanese Obon Festival [Saint Paul, MN]
August 31-September 2, 2019: Missouri Botanical Garden Japanese Festival [St. Louis, MO]
October, 2019: Kansas City Japan Festival [Kansas City, MO]
 

Southwest

Upcoming Events
February 22-23, 2020: Arizona Matsuri [Phoenix, AZ]
Past Events
April 13-14, 2019: Japan Festival Houston [Houston, TX]
May 11, 2019: Santa Fe Japan Cultural Festival [Santa Fe, NM]
July 13, 2019: Oita Japan Festival [Austin, TX] 
September 22, 2019: Aki Matsuri [Albuquerque, NM]
October 2019: Aki Matsuri [Austin, TX]
 

West

Upcoming Events
January 12, 2020: New Year’s ‘Ohana Festival [Honolulu, HI]
January 26, 2020: Portland Mochitsuki [Portland, OR]
Past Events
April 13-21, 2019: Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival [San Francisco, CA]
April 26-28, 2019: Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese Cultural Festival [Seattle, WA]
April 27-28, 2019: Monterey Park Cherry Blossom Festival [Monterey Park, CA]
April 27, 2019: Nihon Matsuri [Salt Lake City, UT]
April 27-28, 2019: Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival [Cupertino, CA]
May 5, 2019: Nikkei Matsuri [San Jose, CA]
May 5, 2019: Children’s Day [Portland, OR]
May 19, 2019: Sonoma County Matsuri Festival [Santa Rosa, CA]
May 25, 2019: Anaheim Japan Fair [Anaheim, CA]
June 7-9, 2019: Pan-Pacific Festival [Honolulu, HI]
June 22-23, 2019Cherry Blossom Festival [Denver, CO]
June 29-30, 2019: Japan Fair [Bellevue, WA]
July 7, 2019: Tanabata Star Festival [Portland, OR]
August 3, 2019: ObonFest [Portland, OR]
August 10-11, 2019: Japanese Food & Cultural Bazaar [Sacramento, CA]
August 10-18, 2019: Nisei Week [Los Angeles, CA]
September, 2019: O-Tsukimi Moonviewing Festival [Portland, OR]
October 18, 2019: Matsuri Kauai [Honolulu, HI]
October 26, 2019: Akimatsuri [Las Vegas, NV]

Sourcing

JUMP Program curates news and opinions from media outlets around the world in order to present a holistic view of the U.S.-Japan relationship.

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