Monday, June 9, 2014

Photos: 2014 Japan Festival in Boston @ The Cambridge River Festival

I volunteered at the Tewassa booth at the third annual Japan Festival in Boston last Saturday, which was held in conjuction with The Cambridge River Festival.

I'm not sure that the festival within a festival concept worked all that well. This year's Japan Festival was really lacking in matsuri atmosphere. Although the River Festival had many stages none of the performers were Japanese so there was no Japanese music and due to the River Festival's vendor requirements matsuri games were not permitted (because it's an art festival, not a carnival, apparently). There also didn't seem to be that many Japanese people in attendance, although it could just be that it was hard to tell because so many people were there for the River Festival. I suppose it's better that something happened rather than nothing but I have to say I enjoyed this year's Sakura Matsuri much more even though it was smaller.

Anime Boston and some other Japan Festival booths

I only wandered around a little, although there wasn't much to see in the Japan Festival portion. There were 19 art and community booths, a far cry from what they had the first two years. They did at least cluster the Japanese booths together except for the two food booths which were way down on Sidney Street with the other food. 

Cooking okonomiyaki

The lines for hot food were crazy when I went down there so I didn't bother waiting. There was a booth listed on the website as JREX but they had Itadaki signs on the booth (they're a JREX member). I did spot Kazu Aotani (owner of Snappy Sushi & Snappy Ramen) manning the yakisoba grill so I guess it was a joint effort between JREX members. They were selling yakisoba, okonomiyaki, teriyaki corn, kakigouri (shaved ice), and Ramune.


Next to them was a booth listed on the website as "Cold Udon by Japan Block Fair". The booth was actually selling sōmen and appeared to be staffed by students from Showa Boston.

I thought Yume Wo Katare was not at the festival because they didn't have a food booth but I ran into a pack of Yume staff on the T and found out they had a non-food activity booth listed on the website as "Yume Festival" where they had a tanabata-like activity where people could write their dreams on a white board and have a Polaroid taken then hung up.

Japanese dolls @ Japanese Women's Club of Boston

There did appear to be a lot of activities for children although I didn't get near most of them and there were a lot of beautiful and ridiculously low-priced handmade goods at our booth, the Japanese Women's Club of Boston, and JB Line. JB Line had these adorable miniature macaron-like coin purses that I didn't manage to get a photo of. Apparently they're popular in Japan.

Tenugui @ wuhao newyork

One vendor came up from NYC: wuhao newyork. They primarily sell tenugui, a type of lightweight Japanese towel. They had some really beautiful ones as well as whimsical ones with maneki neko and dinosaurs!

Boston Special Needs was selling artwork by autistic and special needs children. They even had an artist working on site!

I do appreciate the hard work that the Japan Festival organizers put in to making this happen this year at all. I know people must be wondering what the plans are for next year's Japan Festival. I've heard some rumors but haven't confirmed anything yet. I'll post if I hear anything concrete.

Additional photos here.


  1. I like the hanafuda-esque tshirts on the workers of the okonomiyaki booth, as well as the girl in yukata and pigtails at the somen booth!

    1. Those are Japanese students from Showa Boston, the Boston campus of Showa Women's University in Tokyo! They have the students do a lot of community service and whenever I've seen them volunteering at events they wear those turquoise Showa happi coats or yukata. :) (On the back there's a sakura and says "Showa").