UPPER WEST SIDE, NY — New York City's first-ever Japanese parade is coming to the Upper West Side in May.
The Japan Parade will take place on May 14 starting at 1 p.m. The procession will start on Central Park West and 81st Street and head south toward 68th Street.
Once the parade makes it to its endpoint, a street fair will happen on 67th Street between Columbus and Central Park West until 4:30 p.m.
The Japan Day Festival has been taking place annually in Central Park since 2007, aiming to promote a deeper understanding of Japanese culture.
In past years, the festival day was made up of a mini-marathon, stage performances, Japanese food stands, and other family-friendly activities.
The purpose of the first-time parade this year is to "celebrate, express and bring awareness to the friendship between NYC and Japan."
Star Trek actor George Takei will be the parade's Grand Marshall.
This year also marks the 150th anniversary of the Japanese mission to the United States led by Ambassador Iwakura Tomoni, as well as the United States' introduction of baseball to Japan.
The parade was originally supposed to happen in 2020 to commemorate the 160th anniversary of the first Japanese delegates' visit to the United State, as well as the 2020 Tokyo Olympic Games, but it was pushed back due to the COVID pandemic.
The idea for the parade was initiated by the Consulate General of Japan in New York.
"The Japan Parade is a symbolic evolution of this relationship, and a landmark culmination of Japan and New York’s friendship. We hope many will join us for this historical moment," Ambassador Mikio Mori said in a news release.
Performances at the parade and street fair will include Columbia University's Gagaku Instrumental Ensemble of New York, the Japanese Taiko drum and dance company COBU, the Kazanami - Yosakoi Dance Project, the Japanese Folk Dance Institute and the Young People's Chorus of NYC.
Here's Takei to give a little more of a proper introduction to the Japan Parade.