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It’s been two years since I last attended the annual Sakura Matsuri street festival that’s held in downtown Washington, DC as part of the larger National Cherry Blossom Festival. I thought about going down early in the morning so I could check out the Cherry Blossom Parade that precedes the Sakura Matsuri by starting at 10 a.m. But I was too lazy to get my act together so I could arrive that early so I basically ate breakfast and lunch at home then headed out to the Sakura Matsuri in the afternoon. (I was glad I ate my meals at home because nearly all of the food vendors had very long lines.)

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I even dug out this Japanese imported Stitch hat that I purchased at one of the Otakon anime conventions that were held in Baltimore. I know it was before my marriage broke up because I bought it with my then-husband in mind because he was such a huge fan of the Disney movie Lilo & Stitch and Stitch was his favorite Disney character. I also remember when I modeled the hat for him and he was thrilled with it. That hat had been sitting in a drawer since my husband left but I decided that I could continue to use it because I think it’s a cute hat. Besides, it enabled me to blend in a little bit with the other people who were cosplaying. I even had several people at the festival notice my hat and telling me that they loved it. When I arrived in downtown DC, the one of the first things I did was to take a rare selfie of me wearing that hat.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Like most other years, the festival was very crowded. I still enjoyed myself as I looked around at the sights and sounds of the festival. I even took a few silly pictures while I was there. I recently started to follow the official Sonic the Hedgehog accounts on Facebook and Instagram and it was through social media I learned that there is something called Travel Tuesday where people can submit photos of a Sonic doll or stuffed animal either at an event or some famous landmark (like the Eiffel Tower). I decided to pack my articulated Sonic vinyl doll so I could take his photo for Travel Tuesday. Here are the photos that I submitted but, as of this writing, none of them have been selected for Travel Tuesday.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I also played around a little bit with the Hatsune Miku photo app on my smartphone. I thought it was appropriate since that character originated in Japan. (Although now that I look at the pictures, I realized that I should’ve varied the girl’s pose just a little bit since she had the same facial expression and pose. Oh well.)

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

Hatsune Miku at the Sakura Matsuri

I basically walked around shooting pictures of cosplayers and the various items I saw on sale. I noticed a lot of ram and sheep plushies on sale this year, which makes sense since 2015 is the year that’s known alternatively as the Year of the Sheep, the Year of the Ram, or the Year of the Goat.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I only purchased one thing at this year’s festival.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Yes, it’s chocolate gelato made by Dolci Gelati and it was very delicious!

While I heard musicians perform on the various stages throughout the festival, I only managed to capture one of the acts with my smartphone because it was one of the few times that I was even able to get close to a stage because everything was so crowded. As for the act that I captured, according to the program book, she is a pop singer from Kyoto named Jonetsu Mariko. I thought I recognized the name for some reason and the program book said that she was making a return appearance to the Sakura Matsuri. After I got home, I searched through this blog and I found out that I previously saw her at the 2010 Sakura Matsuri and I had also videotaped her that time. (She appeared under the name Jonetsu Marie and Shabondama High School.) In any case I took a still photo of her.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

I even shot a short video of her performing on stage.

That video was the only one I shot at this year’s Sakura Matsuri.

I also saw that NASCAR driver Akinori Ogata was there with his race car, just like the last time I attended the Sakura Matsuri two years ago. Once again he appeared with Eneos, which makes motor oil. Eneos also had a bean bag toss game called “Cornhole.”

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

Getting on the Metro so I could go home was a bit of a hassle. The last photo shows the long line that I had to stand in just so I could enter the Federal Triangle Metro Station. I’m only lucky that I had the foresight to put enough money on my Metro SmartTrip card for a round trip so I wouldn’t have to stand in another line at the farecard machines.

Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, April 11, 2015

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One Saturday I went to two events in one day. I just wanted to have some light-hearted fun in the wake of my recent appearance in divorce court just three days earlier so I packed my Canon Digital Rebel DSLR camera and rode on the Metro. There are a few photos I posted that are definitely not safe for work but they are placed towards the end of this entry. (The rest of the photos are all-ages friendly.)

First, I attended the annual Sakura Matsuri street festival in Washington, DC. Sakura Matsuri is the event that formally closes the weeks-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. You know that you are at a Metro stop that’s closest to the festival because you’ll see people in costume like the ones in the next two photos.

Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 13, 2013
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The Sakura Matsuri is usually very crowded and 2013 was no exception. I arrived late in the afternoon (just a couple of hours before it closed) and there were still plenty of people around. The weather was a warm sunny day as people walked around the festival just a few blocks away from the U.S. Capitol.

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The next photo show the official art for this year’s National Cherry Blossom Festival, which was available for sale on posters and t-shirts.

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The cherry blossom trees in the Baltimore-Washington region were past their blooming peak on the day of the Sakura Matsuri but the street festival had plenty of cherry blossom flowers made from glass, paper, and other artificial materials.

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There were some special guests at the Sakura Matsuri, such as NASCAR driver Akinori Ogata and his racing car.

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There was plenty of live entertainment provided by performers from Japan.

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There was a variety of things to do or experience, such as live entertainment and hands-on demonstrations of video games like Dance Dance Revolution.

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The crowdest booths were the ones serving food and drink. (Naturally.) The next two photos are of the non-food booths that were the most crowded. One was devoted to providing free hair styling for men while the other was a McDonald’s booth that was giving away free tote bags.

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There were all kinds of Japanese imported products that one could purchase including candy, snacks, plushies, kitchen gadgets, dolls, action figures, and clothes. Some products were based on traditional crafts and images while others were based on characters in anime, manga, video games, and even Disney movies. In short, there was a little something for everyone.

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Like previous years, the highlight of the Sakura Matsuri are the numerous cosplayers at the event. Many of them created their own costumes from scratch. The hard work and creativity involved in making these costumes are astounding.

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When the festival began to show signs of closing down, I hopped back on the Metro to the Rosslyn Metro station. I decided to check out another special event that was being held. The Artisphere in Arlington, Virginia was the venue for a special party to celebrate Yuri’s Night. When I first learned about it, I thought about my ex-husband because he works at NASA and it was through him that I first learned about the existence of Yuri’s Night

I also had to make a difficult decision for the evening of April 13. Someone from my support group for people who are separated or divorced was throwing a party at her home complete with a bonfire and I got this notice about the Yuri’s Night event. I ultimately decided to go to the Yuri’s Night event because the e-mail I received sounded really promising. There would be a bunch of people dressed as robots. There would be a burlesque performance. There would be a couple of dances. There would be a robot-themed art exhibit. There would be a special sale of smaller science fiction-themed works of art done by local artists that one can buy that night and carry home. There would be continuous showings of cheesy science fiction movies from the 1950’s and 1960’s. I got seduced by the promised glitz and I decided to go there instead of the other party.

In retrospect I have to admit that there are times when I wished I had gone to the other party instead. That’s because I didn’t know anyone at the Yuri’s Night event while many of the other attendees went with their friends and socialized at times. While the shows and bands were pretty awesome, I felt lonely in a crowd. So my big lesson in my still relatively new foray into the single life is that it’s better to go to a less-splashy event where I knew people than to go to a splashy event like Yuri’s Night where I didn’t know anyone. From now on, if there are any scheduling conflicts between a splashy event and a less-splashy event where I know my friends would be there, I’ll pick the latter. (The only exception to that rule will be if I know in advance that my ex-husband and his girlfriend are going to the same party where I know my friends would be there.)

At least the Yuri’s Night event at the Artisphere wasn’t a total bust for me. There were plenty of interesting stuff for me to photograph, starting with the skyline of late afternoon Arlington.

Yuri's Night, The Artisphere, Arlington, Virginia, April 13, 2013

There were plenty of signs pointing to the venue of Yuri’s Night.

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There were also plenty of tulips and other spring flowers already in bloom.

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But then I came across other flower patches that surrounded tree trunks that were covered in colorful crocheted pieces.

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I began to notice that there were tree trunks covered in these crocheted pieces.

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As I walked around the area, I found crocheted pieces hung and strung everywhere.

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I walked around until I came to this giant metal sculpture that’s in the middle of a median strip where I found the culprits responsible for hanging the crocheted pieces everywhere. A group of people were busy trying to cover both the sculpture and the surrounding garden with as many crocheted pieces as possible before sunset.

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I walked around the streets of Arlington to kill some time before the start of Yuri’s Night at the Artisphere. I arrived at the event just in time for the start. The Atomic Mosquitos played a set while scenes from cheesy 1950’s era science fiction movies played in the background.

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Once the performance ended we were ushered out into a general area where we had a choice of either socializing or checking out the activities that were going on.

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There was this trivia contest that used Rock Em Sock Em Robots. Basically someone would ask prospective contests a single trivia question related to science, space, science fiction, Yuri Gagarin, or similar topics. The first two people to get the right answer would then battle each other using Rock Em Sock Em Robots. It was a delightfully silly contest that was also broadcast on a wall so people wouldn’t have to crowd around the Rock Em Sock Em Robots to see the entire action.

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In the Artisphere’s WIP Gallery there was a show featuring robot art called Voltron’s Corpse that will be on display through May 4. This particular exhibit has gotten the attention of Wired magazine.

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There were vendor tables set up that sold smaller space-themed arts and crafts that people could purchase and carry home with them.

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There was an I Dream of Jeannie-themed kissing booth.

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Even though the event was opened only to adults over 21, there was a Moon Bounce House that anyone could use. (I saw people go in and out of it.)

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There were all kinds of eye candy at the Artisphere that night, which included not only funky decorations but also people who arrived in robot costumes.

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At one point there was another live performance by the band Dance for the Dying.

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There was also a burlesque show called "The Search for Drinkbot." That show was the most packed with standing room only crowds (which was exacerbated by the fact that there weren’t any chairs in the room where the show was held). It was a challenge to take pictures over people’s shoulders at times. There was a thin science-fiction plot but one didn’t need to follow that story to enjoy the entertainment. Some of the photos I took at that show are definitely NSFW.

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There was more to Yuri’s Night including another set by Dance for the Dying, the second part of "The Search for Drinkbot" burlesque show, continuous showings of various science fiction movies, a Celestial Costume Contest, another round of the Rock Em Sock Em Trivial Tournament, and a Lunar Dance Party. I ended up leaving at the relatively early time of 10 p.m. mainly because I was tired from going to the earlier Sakura Matsuri street festival and standing on my feet for the first part of the burlesque show. I also grew frustrated at seeing people socializing with each other and I felt left out because I didn’t know anyone at that event. (Which really made me regret not going to the other party with my friends from my weekly support group for people who are separated or divorced.) At least Yuri’s Night provided lots of eye candy and I got some pretty decent photos from that event.

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