Cherry Blossom season is almost here in the Nation's Capital. The National Cherry Blossom Festival is just a few weeks away. That means that Sakura Matsuri is just around the corner. It also means that on Saturday April 13, hundreds of Anime fan-boys and fan-girls come out dressed in their colorful Anime costumes and will take over six blocks of Pennsylvanian Avenue in downtown Washington D.C.
Here is a bit history about Sakura Matsuri which literally translated from Japanese means ‘Cherry Blossom Festival’. It was started by the Japanese-American Society of Washington D.C. in 1961. It originally was a small street bazaar for friends of the Japanese-American Society to be the climax of the two-week long National Cherry Blossom Festival. Sakura Matsuri is known for being the largest one-day event of Japanese culture in the United States. There is something for everyone at Sakura Matsuri, especially for the Anime fans around Washington, D.C.
Anime fans love Sakura Matsuri because for them it is like a giant outdoor Anime Convention in the middle of downtown Washington D.C. The festival has everything an Anime fan-boy or fan-girl could possibly want. One of the most popular sites at the festival includes the Martial Arts stage where trained experts will demonstrate sword fighting and Karate. Anime fans especially enjoy this because it resembles some of the action scenes they see in Anime movies. There is the Ginza Marketplace which has dozens of Japanese vendors where the fans can purchase costumes, accessories and toys based on their favorite Anime movies and comic books. It’s very common at Sakura Matsuri to see fans show up in costume as their favorite Anime character.
Another favorite attraction is the J-POP stage. J-POP, also known as Japanese pop music, is the mainstream music in Japan and has a similar sound to the New-Wave and Punk music that is heard in the U.S. Anime fans around the world are listening to J-POP because a lot of the music comes right from their favorite Anime videos. Many times at Anime conventions, a popular J-POP group will perform a live concert for the fans. During the show there usually is a movie screen showing the Anime movie or TV series that the songs comes from.
Sakura Matsuri for an Anime fan is almost the next best thing to actually visiting Japan. It has so many aspects of Japanese pop culture; the music, the food, the exhibits, the marketplace, costume contest. It’s those features that drive the Anime fan into coming back to Sakura Matsuri each year.