Japan Parade 2024

Japan Society members and families at the Japan Parade. © Stefanie Candelario

The Japan Parade is one of NYC’s largest celebrations of Japan, with close to 100 groups and performers marching down Central Park West from 81st to 67th Street in front of over 50,000 spectators, along with a Japanese Street Fair on 72nd Street. But the overall vibe of the Parade is really a community festival set in the heart of America’s biggest city! 

On May 11, over 50 Japan Society members marched—or rode in style on a very special float—in the Japan Parade for the first time, joining up with the U.S.-Japan Tourism Year group by special invitation from the Japan National Tourism Organization (JNTO). Darth Vader was there, too, courtesy of Lucasfilm, in celebration of the official Star Wars Convention coming to Japan in 2025.

Japan Society Film Director Peter Tatara was the guiding force behind the Society’s presence at the Parade: “The Japan Parade is one of the largest Japanese festivals and celebrations in the city. A major focus of the Consulate General of Japan in New York, it brings together close to 100 different performers, nonprofits, and major corporations, all in the U.S.-Japan space, from across New York, the U.S., and the world. Japan Society has always been a financial supporter of the Parade, but we haven’t been present ‘in person’ until this year. Planning started late, and we began with the concept of having a group of members march under a giant 30-foot koinobori banner—I had a connection who was willing to lend one for the occasion—which would have been a great photo op.”

“But, in parallel, we’d been working with JNTO on another project, and they reached out with the idea to be part of their float and asking if our members and their families would be interested in joining in. What a wonderful opportunity! While we focused on signing up members and their families, JNTO had been working with Lucasfilm, to help celebrate Japan being chosen as the location for the next official Star Wars Convention that takes place every two years. Come the day of the event, the Skywalker family joined the float, bringing along a host of Star Wars cosplayers. The end result was a very cool, very vibrant float, one of the biggest in the parade, that was also branded for Japan Society. We had little kids in kimono on the float, with the Japan Society group—over 50 members—marching in front. It was an amazing and truly memorable experience for everyone.”

“There’s something else I’d like to add, and that’s about the energy of the Japan Parade. If you haven’t ever been to the Parade, I don’t think you’d know about the energy that is there. It’s a community event in a really big city. And that’s the amazing thing about it, because most of the big NYC parades don’t feel that way. And the turnout! Every block is filled with people cheering, and the audience is a New York audience, packed with people of every age and background, celebrating and cheering on Japanese organizations, American organizations, Japanese American organizations, and more, all in support of the occasion. That’s a really powerful statement as to where we are with U.S.-Japan and U.S.-Japan friendship right now.”

“May 11, the third annual Japan Parade, was a very impactful—and fun—afternoon showcasing the rare, unique friendship between Japan and the United States. It was empowering for the people in the Parade as well as everyone in the audience, all celebrating their love for Japan and having a great time doing it. So, now we have a whole year to figure out what Japan Society will be doing at the Japan Parade in 2025! May the Force be with us!”