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.
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.