By Asa Marshall
Anticipation had the best of me the whole week before this glorious event of sounds, tastes, smells, and sights all combined into this congregation of culture. The coldest winter air couldn’t stop me from attending, as if this moment alone would change everything forever. In a way it did. It opened my eyes and ears to a new world unfamiliar to mines that was special and intriguing. The food caught my eye right away through the crowds of people, many of whom I’ve never seen before, all together as a single heartbeat. A mass array of faces that showed pride in who they were. The beats the taiko drummers molded echoed through my body as crashing waves on a rock in the sea. It was all so beautiful. If I ever get the chance I would go again, forever wanting to be a part of something new, appreciating everything I learn.
This year the Japanese New Year’s Celebration in Washington hosted by the Japan Commerce Association of Washington D.C was held at the Marriott at Woodley Park on the 27th of January. It was a joy filled all day event from 11am to 3pm, and I enjoyed every bit of it. It is held in DC every year, but this was my first time attending. There was a lot to do and I was grateful for the tickets purchased for us by Japanese Plus. I brought my cousin along because he also wanted to experience Japanese culture. There were many stands full of snacks and toys and novelties to buy the moment you stepped in. It was also considerably cheap and well managed.
I’ve never seen so many Japanese people in the D.C area, and it was such a welcoming atmosphere. There were sections for activities, some of which you had to buy tickets for, and it was so fun to do calligraphy and play with kendamas. There was one part I would never forget and that was seeing the Shinto shrine set up to offer prayers for a good year to come. Though it wasn’t big, it was very beautiful, and recently learning about how to pray at the shrines in class was very exciting for me, knowing that I know how to do it properly.
My favorite part of the whole event was of course the food and it was so packed, and the lines were so long it made me anticipate the food even more. I had gyudon, which is a rice bowl with beef; taiyaki, a red bean paste filled fish shaped treat; takoyaki, a ball filled with octopus; nikuman, which was a pork bun; and a refreshing bottle of ramune to top it off. It was such a feast and I wanted to keep going back for more, but my wallet said no. It is such an amazing event and I hope to go again next year!