Saturday, April 16, 2016

Japan Festival Boston & Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival celebrating five years

Boston's two largest Japanese festivals are celebrating five years this year!

Japan Festival Boston & Cosplay Matsuri


Japan Festival Boston (formerly Haru Matsuri and Japan Festival in Boston) is hoping for this year's matsuri to be twice as large as last year's when 40,000 people attended! It looks like they are also expanding the cosplay portion of the event to be a matsuri within a matsuri. Their website has been updated with much more detailed information including team bios of the folks who are organizing the festival. Also check their Facebook page where there's a lot of information posted that isn't on the website.

Weaving at SAORI Worcester booth
2015 Japan Festival Boston
As usual there will be lots of arts organizations and businesses, many of whom have participated in past years, including Tewassa, GrayMist Studio & Shop, SAORI Worcester, Kaji Aso Studio, Chikako Mukai of Chikako Designs, Julie Kohaya of Heavenly Cranes Jewelry, amezaiku artist Candy Miyuki and Japanese calligraphy artist Kokin Manabe, who has been a guest artist at the Boston Children's Museum. There will be at least a couple of businesses selling kimono and yukata (Nomura Kimono Shop from Japan and Ohio Kimono).

The grill @ Oga's booth
2015 Japan Festival Boston
This year's food vendors include a mix of local, NYC-area, and Japan-based businesses. Note that lines are always insanely long so you should take snacks, especially if you have children. Last year some people ended up going to fast food places near the Boston Common because it was easier than standing in line. One of their GoFundMe perks this year is a $50 fast pass that you can use at some of the food booths, but it's unclear how that's going to work. Issues with food lines have unfortunately been a recurring problem for the festival. The food always looks oishii but I've rarely been able to eat at the food booths since I haven't had time to stand in line.

See photos from 2015 Japan Festival Boston.
See photos from 2014 Japan Festival in Boston. 

Date & Time
Sunday, April 24, 2016
11am - 6pm

Boston Common at the Beacon & Charles Street corner (near Frog Pond).
See festival map.

How you can help
The festival is not cheap to produce and JREX is crowdfunding with GoFundMe again. One of the rewards is a $75 yukata rental.

They are also seeking volunteers.

Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival


The Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival (formerly Brookline Sakura Matsuri) is also celebrating five years. This very family-friendly matsuri with lots of activities for kids is produced by The Genki Spark (also in their fifth year) and Brookline High School's Japanese Program. The festival has grown every year and while much smaller than the Japan Festival Boston, has a great community vibe and lots of taiko from The Genki Spark and guest artists from around New England: Odaiko New England, Takahashi Minyo Kai, ShinDaiko, Mountain River Taiko, and Stuart Paton & Burlington Taiko. Last year over 1,300 festivalgoers came from all over New England and as far away as Canada.

Food vendors this year are Ittoku, who has been at the festival since they added food vendors in 2014, Itadaki, Japonaise Bakery, and Hana Japan (who host their own Natsu Matsuri every August). The food lines aren't as long as the Japan Festival Boston but if you have young children you should plan ahead. There are no restaurants within walking distance of the high school.

See videos from 2015 Brookline Cherry Blossom Festival.
See photos from 2014 Brookline Sakura Matsuri.

Date & Time
Saturday, April 30, 2016
noon - 4pm

Brookline High School Quad (Rain Location: Schluntz Gym)
115 Greenough Street, Brookline, MA, 02445

Suggested Donation: $5/students, $10-20 families
All proceeds support the BHS Japan Exchange Program ​Scholarship Fund and promotion of the arts

Disclosure: I would like to note that I am friends with some of the organizers of both of these festivals, however, I publicize them because they are the largest Japanese cultural events in the Boston area, not just because my friends organize them. :)