The DC Cherry Blossom Festival

It’s been too long since I’ve last written, and I figure that the Cherry Blossom Festival is a great time to start writing again! And I have a confession to make (besides writing this post a whole month later than I should have : P ). As crazy as it sounds, for someone who is as crazy about Japan as I am and lives only an hour from DC… I’ve never actually been to the Cherry Blossom Festival. I know -.- It sounds totally inexcusable! The best excuses I have for the past three years was I was either going to or coming back from Japan at this time, but before that I’ve got nothing but being overly preoccupied with my studies.

Anyway! I decided that this injustice in my life could continue no longer! So I found a few friends and trekked in to DC to finally see the Cherry Blossoms and experience the street festival!

They closed off a few streets in DC and set up tons of stalls, each of them promoting Japanese culture in some way–well, most of them. There were a couple stalls selling funnel cakes which seemed more reminiscent of a carnival : P But there were stalls selling all kinds of Japanese food, including donburi, teriyaki chicken, sushi, even okonomiyaki! (Okonomiyaki, for those of you who don’t know, is a Japanese dish that is like a pancake with meat and veggies mixed in and with a sauce on top.) I really wanted the okonomiyaki, but the line for it was like a snake stuffed into a box, so instead I enjoyed some eel. Love eel!


Besides food, many stalls also sold anime merchandise. And there were quite a few cosplayers at the festival, too. Sightings include Tobi from Naruto, as well as Aang from Avatar! I saw Aang! And he had blue arrows! I also saw the Noh ghost from Spirited Away and a transformer. My friend pointed out that there were several people there dressed up as characters from the recently popular anime Attack on Titan, but I wasn’t able to get a picture of them.



There were several stages where different performances were going on. They had everything from J-Pop to traditional Japanese music performances. My favorite was the Tamagawa Drum and Dance Troupe. The way they beat those drums made me wish I knew how to dance!


There were a number of other stalls that showcased traditional Japanese culture and sold traditional Japanese clothing and trinkets. And, as I had learned from my year in Japan, traditional Japanese things in general seem to be expensive. Maybe I’m wrong, it has just seemed to me that whether if it is clothing, instruments, or buildings, traditional seems to cost more than whatever the modern or western equivalent is, even in Japan.

Finally, at the end of the day, before going home, we walked a few miles from the festival to the cherry blossoms. (Don’t ask me why they’re so far apart : P) And they were beautiful.


After that, we went home on the trains, which felt as packed as Tokyo trains at rush hour. Now that I look back on it, everything about that day reminds me of Japan. The food, the cherry blossoms, the trains, the anime paraphernalia and cosplay. It was almost as if I was back in Japan. Almost.


About Stephen Gabriel Falke

Stephen Gabriel Falke is passionate about loving Jesus and loving Japanese! He grew up in Virginia, America, and first visited Japan in 2007. He then studied abroad at Sophia University in Tokyo for a year in 2012. He also participated in the JET Program as an ALT from 2015-2017. He currently works as an English teacher at Hirosaki Gakuin Seiai Secondary School in Hirosaki, Aomori, Japan.
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2 Responses to The DC Cherry Blossom Festival

  1. Loved this. 🙂 Thanks for sharing the story and the photos. I had no idea such a major Japanese culture festival was happening in DC right under my nose!!! How could I possibly not realize this!? I thought that the “Cherry Blossom Festival” simply referred to the fact that the cherry blossoms were blooming during that brief window. I feel pretty ignorant now… regardless, thank you for engaging in Japanese culture in DC and even more for spreading awareness of Japan outside of Japan. God bless!

  2. Stephen says:

    Thank you so much Michelle. It’s good to hear from you : ) God knows I wish I were there right now.

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