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It’s been two years since I last went to this annual event, which traditionally closes the weeks-long National Cherry Blossom Festival. The last time I was there, the Sakura Matsuri was held on Pennsylvania Avenue right next to the Old Post Office Building (which was then undergoing renovation into the Trump International Hotel—you can see those giant blue TRUMP signs in the background of some of the photos I took during that event).

Since that time the event has been relocated. It is now held at the Navy Yards near Nationals Park. I don’t know if Donald Trump have had a hand in that festival’s relocation or not but it doesn’t matter because I don’t have to see those Trump International Hotel signs.

Like previous Sakura Matsuri festivals, this one was a celebration of all aspects of Japanese culture including anime, J-pop, J-rock, kendo, and traditional Japanese crafts. There were also a lot of cosplayers walking around. Here are the photos I took of the Sakura Matsuri.

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Last Saturday, the day before Easter, I decided to head out to the National Building Museum in downtown Washington, DC because of a free event that was held as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival known as Family Day. I arrived at the very majestic and historical National Building Museum, which is usually a feast for the eyes both inside and outside.

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The various cherry blossom related activities and decorations enhanced the inside of the building even more.

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The major high point for me was seeing this drawing robot in action. It’s known as the Kawasaki DuAro and it was available for drawing people’s portraits in ink.

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I would’ve loved to have had the robot draw my portrait but the line to use the machine was a bit long so I had to settle for shooting this short video instead.

This year is the 100th anniversary of the founding of the National Park Service, which is the agency that frequently gets maligned by right wing extremists like Cliven Bundy as well as certain Republican lawmakers. Most people in the Baltimore-Washington, DC area don’t see the National Park Service as the enemy so most of us don’t really have any issue with certain areas being run by that federal agency. The National Park Service had an activity center for kids as a tie-in with the National Cherry Blossom Festival’s Family Day and they will be more such tie-ins as the festival continues for the next few weeks.

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The cherry blossom trees were at their peak bloom on that day. While many out-of-towners tend to gather and crowd around the trees planted in the Tidal Basin, it’s not the only place in Washington, DC where one can find blooming cherry blossom trees. There were quite a few just outside the National Building Museum and they were nowhere near as crowded as the ones in the Tidal Basin.

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There were a couple of skateboarders using the National Building Museum’s steps to practice their tricks.

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I also walked around the nearby Chinatown area. Chinatown was once home to Chinese immigrants, many of whom started businesses in that area. In recent years these locally owned stores have been replaced by chain stores and restaurants. One interesting fact is that, due to a DC ordinance that the signs in Chinatown be bilingual in English and Chinese, many of these chain businesses display their signs in both languages.

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I made a stop at It’s Sugar, which I’m well familiar with due to the numerous trips I’ve made to its Baltimore location. The DC store is small compared to the one in Harborplace but it’s still full of all kinds of sweet goodies, some of which comes from all over the world.

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The focal point of Chinatown is the Friendship Archway, which is reputed to be the largest of its kind built anywhere in the world. It is a very impressive structure to see in person.

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A street performer croons a tune to people coming to and going from the Gallery Place-Chinatown Metro station.

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While the chain stores and restaurants have displaced many of the original Chinese businesses, there are a few that remain. But these businesses seem to be more and more in the minority compared with the chains.

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These Chinese businesses still have Chinese style reliefs and other art on the sides of the buildings, such as this relief in the next photograph.

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Wok and Roll, located at 601 H Street, Northwest, is a restaurant that serves Chinese and Japanese dishes. A plaque next to the front door notes the fact that, during the Civil War, it was a boarding house that was owned by a widow named Mary Surratt, who ran it in order to pay off debts that were left by her late husband. It was there where Mary’s son, John Surratt, met with John Wilkes Booth and a few other Confederate sympathizers in order to plan the kidnapping of President Abraham Lincoln. After Booth assassinated President Lincoln, Mary Surratt was arrested and later hanged on conspiracy charges. To this day historians still debate whether Mary Surratt was really involved with the conspiracy against Lincoln or if she was just a victim of circumstance.
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I had a rough few days with getting my taxes done on time. I managed to get them in the mail at 3 p.m. on April 15 just two hours before the local post office makes the final collection of the day. The next day I felt really burned out so I decided to spend the late afternoon doing something fun. I decided to check out the cherry blossom trees in the Tidal Basin for the first time in two years. (During that last time I was working on a photostory involving my Makies doll for a contest.) At times I also played around with that Hatsune Miku photo app so you’ll see those photos as well.

The gates at the Smithsonian Metro Station were decorated with pink cherry blossom decals.

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It was the fourth and final week of the National Cherry Blossom Festival but the only event scheduled that week was an 11-mile bike ride through downtown DC that was scheduled on April 18 (just two days after my Tidal Basin visit). The cherry blossoms were past their peak bloom but there were still plenty of flowers to admire along with tiny green leaves that were budding next to the flowers. They still made pretty pictures, such as the next two photos, (one of which includes the Washington Memorial).

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Many of the petals had fallen to the ground, which resembled a light dusting of pink snow.

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While the cherry blossoms were past their peak, the flowers in the nearby Tulip Library were just starting to bloom. There were a wide variety of tulips and daffodils in a variety of shapes and colors, providing such a feast for the eyes!

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I shot Hatsune Miku sitting among the tulips.

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Many of the cherry blossom trees provided nice photography in various places, such as one place where the Jefferson Memorial can be seen in the far horizon.

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I took a couple of photos of Hatsune Miku with the Jefferson Memorial in the background.

Hatsune Miku Goes to Washington

Hatsune Miku Goes to Washington

The Stone Lantern can be seen in the next photo along with some nicely landscaped boulders complimenting it.

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 Here’s Hatsune Miku next to the Stone Lantern.

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The newest of the Tidal Basin memorials, the Martin Luther King, Jr., Memorial, can be seen in the next photo.

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Here’s Hatsune Miku at the MLK Memorial.

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The MLK Memorial is so big that one can see it from a distance. (Yes, the white speck along the Tidal Basin is the memorial.)

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The Washington Memorial is another one that can be seen from a great distance.

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The next photo below shows the Franklin Delano Roosevelt Memorial. On this last visit I noticed one thing about that statue of FDR.

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His one finger seems shiner than the rest of the statue. It seems like visitors have been playing a variation of “Pull My Finger” for some weird reason.

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Parts of Fala’s ears and nose also seem very shiny compared to the rest of the statue. It seems like people have been petting the statue as if he were a real living dog.

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I had Hatsune Miku pose next to FDR and Fala giving a peace sign. The big irony is that Hatsune Miku originated in Japan and, well, FDR had that notorious policy that were aimed at American citizens who happened to be of Japanese descent even though none of them had anything to do with Pearl Harbor.

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Just beyond the FDR Memorial is the Stone Pagoda. Of course I took a couple of photos of Hatsune Miku next to that one as well.

Hatsune Miku Goes to Washington

Hatsune Miku Goes to Washington

As I walked away from the Stone Pagoda I crossed the pedestrian bridge that’s over the inlet (which connects the Tidal Basin to the Potomac River), which features this hidden charm. It’s a fountain (which hasn’t worked in years) which has a creature that has the head of a grown man and the body of a fish-like creature. Underneath is a clamshell-shaped sink that would catch excess water if the fountain was working. This fountain never gets mentioned in any of the official guide books but it’s worth searching for while you’re crossing that pedestrian bridge.

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I eventually made it to the grounds of the Jefferson Memorial where I saw people taking photos of a member of the Park Police on horseback.

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I took my last photo of Hatsune Miku on the steps of the Jefferson Memorial.

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Unlike previous trips, I didn’t bother going up the steps to visit the statue of Thomas Jefferson this time because I felt really tired. Between getting the taxes done and preparing for the Greenbelt Mini-Maker Faire, I was more tired than usual and I was happy just skipping the walk up those steps.

As I walked past the Bureau of Engraving and Printing building on my way back to the Smithsonian Metro Station, I saw this charming cherry blossom banner that I couldn’t resist photographing.

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On my way back to the Metro station, I noticed a sign signifying that I was on a portion of the East Coast Greenway. This is the third such sign I’ve seen after seeing others in Baltimore and at Lake Artemesia in Berwyn Heights, Maryland.

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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

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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

Passover

I spent the Saturday before Easter at the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival that’s held every year as part of the National Cherry Blossom Festival. Most of the cherry blossom trees in the area haven’t bloomed yet but it hasn’t deterred people from having a good time at the festival anyway.

I went to the festival back in 2012 and 2013 then skipped last year. The other two years I arrived in the afternoon and hung around until I grew tired. I ended up leaving the festival hours before the fireworks because of fatigue. This year I decided that I really wanted to check out the fireworks in person so I ended up not leaving for the festival until after 4 p.m. So I packed my folding chair, headed to the nearest Metro station, and took the subway to the Waterfront station.

When I first left the station I noticed this nearby building where someone had decorated the windows with cherry blossoms made entirely from Post-It Notes.

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Someone had even done a pretty decent replication of Mario from the numerous Nintendo games like Donkey Kong and Super Mario Bros.

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It’s been two years since I last walked around the Southwest Waterfront area. I noticed that there was a bunch of construction activity going on.

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I also walked past this Bible preacher urging festival attendees to become Christians.

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I eventually arrived at the entrance to the festival.

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The festival was full of people.

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Since I arrived late in the afternoon, I decided to treat myself to an early dinner. (For once I attended a public event without schlepping food and drink around.) I found a group of food trucks that provided different types of food ranging from Middle Eastern to Korean BBQ to pizza.

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I ended up ordering my food from the truck in the next few pictures. The truck served French crepes under the name Crêpes Parfait. I waited in a long line to order then I was given a number where I had to wait a little while longer until my number was called and I could pick up my crepe. I ordered the chicken crepe with sun-dried tomatoes and mozzarella cheese, which was definitely worth the wait. I was able to set up my folding chair along the Washington Channel where I ate my crepe while watching the beautiful scenery.

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After I finished eating my dinner I continued to walk around the festival. I saw another group of food trucks in a different area.

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I found a blue truck called Captain Cookie and, on impulse, I decided to treat myself to dessert. I ordered an ice cream sandwich which featured vanilla ice cream in between two snickerdoodle cookies. That ice cream sandwich was incredibly awesome! The ice cream tasted like there was actually vanilla bean mixed in and the snickerdoodles were exquisite. I picked up their business card in the hopes that I somehow run into that food truck again. (LOL!)

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The next photo shows the Washington Channel. The day was pretty lovely in that it was cool enough for a light jacket but it was still a very far cry from that Arctic chill that plagued our region earlier this year.

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I saw that one of the festival sponsors, Proctor & Gamble, was having a booth where they gave away free samples of Tide. I got in the line and picked up a bag full of Tide samples. I won’t have to worry about buying new laundry detergent for a while. (LOL!)

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The only part of the festival that I was disappointed in was that, unlike other years, there was no craft show that was held as part of the festivities. I was kind of looking forward to the craft show only to find that it was eliminated. At first I thought there was a show that ended early until I saw the official program and it wasn’t even listed. As a consolation I took a bunch of photos of the various demonstrations of Japanese-inspired crafts (some of which were hands-on) that were held at the festival along with general sights of the event.

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The official program guide urged visitors wishing to view the fireworks to stake out a place near the Titanic Memorial in order to get the best views and to get to the memorial early. I took that advice and made my way to the memorial.

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I set up my folding chair along the banks of the Washington Channel, where I was treated to a lovely sunset.

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After sunset a bunch of boats with red and blue lights were floating around in the channel.

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The fireworks began at 8:30 p.m. and they lasted between 15-20 minutes (just before the official 9 p.m. close of the festival). The fireworks looked incredibly spectacular along the waterfront. These are just a few of the fireworks that were shot off that night.

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After the fireworks ended I decided to head home. As I was crossing one of the streets at one point, I realized that I was holding the plastic bag containing the Tide samples wrong because Tide samples began to spill out right on to the street where cars were driving by. I managed to pick up a couple of the spilled samples quickly but I couldn’t pick them all up because I didn’t want to risk getting hit by a car. So I had no other choice but to leave a few of the envelopes in the street where they got smashed up under car tires.

Most people who were at the festival were headed towards the Southeast Waterfront Metro Station (many of us heeded the advice of the festival organizers not to drive there because of a lack of parking), which became totally crowded along the platform as everyone waited for the next subway train to arrive. I really lucked out when a car with a door happened to arrive right in front of me so I was able to get right on the train without having to push people. My train car filled up quick, as you can see in the next photo.

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I ended up having to stand for at least the first few stops. I ended up right against the back door leading to the next car. I looked through the window and I saw that the next car was just as crowded as my car was, as you can see in the photo below.

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I was eventually able to get a seat once the Metro got past the L’Enfant Plaza station and hordes of people got off (because that station is a major transfer point). When I got off the Metro and headed towards my car in the parking lot, I saw this lovely full moon.

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I’m glad that I finally saw the fireworks show at the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival. It was the first time I saw fireworks in Washington, DC since the one year, soon after my husband and I were married, we headed off to the Mall on the Fourth of July with a couple of friends from my husband’s job. It was very crowded and it was very hot and humid (I remember it was in the mid-90’s that day). It was pretty uncomfortable the entire day. While the fireworks over the Washington Monument and the Tidal Basin were lovely, it was hell trying to get home after it was all over. It took us at least an hour before we could even get inside the Smithsonian Metro Station and it took another half an hour before we were able to board a train because it was that crowded. My husband and I swore off ever again going to the Mall on the Fourth of July.

In contrast to that one, the Southwest Fireworks Festival was pretty nice. It wasn’t quite as crowded and it was relatively easy to find a decent view of the fireworks. And I didn’t have to wait as long to get on a Metro train either. The only thing I would do differently is that I should’ve brought a blanket because it got pretty cold after sunset. While I was able to put up my hood and place my hands in my jacket pocket, I would’ve appreciated a little bit more warmth. Otherwise, it was a great fireworks show on a pretty lovely day.

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.

Last week I alluded to the fact that I walked around the Tidal Basin amid the budding and blooming cherry blossoms because I was working on a project. Now you can see the results of that project. As some of you may know, last year I checked out this UK-based website called Makies where you can create your own avatar for free. (And you can create as many avatars as you want.) If you want to have a real-life version of any of your avatars, you can press a button online, pay via PayPal or a credit card, and—voila—you get a doll (or action figure) version of your avatar. The doll/action figure is created using the new 3D printer technology that has gotten plenty of attention in the media in recent months. So I tried it last year and I now have a cute blue-haired elf doll that I named Victoria.

I recently took Victoria with me to Washington, DC where I took photos of her among the various famous tourist attractions (including the cherry blossom trees in the Tidal Basin). I edited the photos when I got home and created a series of short photostories for this contest whose deadline was today. (Ironically it’s the same day as Tax Day. I had quite a week where I simultaneously worked on my both my contest entries and my own taxes while seeing my divorce become final. One day I’ll look back on all this and wonder how I managed to do it all without suffering a nervous breakdown. LOL!)

I had to download this app on my iPad called SlickFlick, which wasn’t so bad since it’s a free app. I downloaded the photos on my MacBook computer, did the initial editing in Photoshop, transferred them over to iPhoto, synched them over to iPad, imported them into SlickFlick where I added the captions, put the photos in a certain order, then uploaded them online. SlickFlick is easy to use. The only downside is that SlickFlick is very buggy and it crashed a few times on my iPad. There were other times when something happened during the uploading process and the photostory wasn’t posted so I had to re-upload it. (There was one story that I finally got online after four tries.) I think SlickFlick has potential but the app definitely needs more work.

I originally thought about doing one long photostory titled “Victoria Goes to Washington” but I ended up breaking the photostory down into shorter ones because it not only made the work easier (since I only dealt with one bite-sized piece at a time) but I was also dealing with a buggy app and it was easier to do shorter photostories with it.

You can view them online right now either through the SlickFlick app or, if you don’t have that app, you can simply click on the links below. The photostories could be read in any order since it’s more of a travelogue than a linear story.

Victoria Outside the National Theatre (Where it’s Currently Holding a Production of Monty Python’s Spamalot)

Victoria Outside the FBI Building

Victoria at the White House

Victoria at the Washington Monument

Victoria Climbing Around the Cherry Blossom Trees in the Tidal Basin

Victoria Viewing the Monuments at the Tidal Basin

I won’t find out about the contest outcome for a while but I’ll keep you posted, especially if I win anything.

UPDATE (April 15, 2013): I just went to this post on the Makies site and I found out that I didn’t win. Compared to what happened in Boston today, my loss in a contest seems totally insignificant.

UPDATE (January 16, 2017): One day I decided to visit my old photostories on SlickFlick.com for old time’s sake only to discover that the site doesn’t exist anymore. (I guess that means that the SlickFlick app doesn’t work anymore but I haven’t tried it mainly because I haven’t used it at all since I entered that Makies-sponsored contest back in 2013.) The good news is that I found my old photostories on the Internet Archive so I updated the links to reflect that.

Here is a video I shot of the band Hifana during their performance at last month’s Sakura Matsuri street festival in Washington, DC. Hifana is a Japanese band from Okinawa who performs polyrhythmic tunes on a variety of instruments and electronic devices. This was the only video I shot at this year’s Sakura Matsuri festival.

Last Saturday, while I was in the middle of preparing my home for yesterday’s Open Studio Tour, I decided to take a few hours off from the intense cleaning up and decluttering to head to downtown Washington, DC for the annual Sakura Matsuri street festival, which was held as part of the larger National Cherry Blossom Festival (which is currently celebrating the 100th anniversary of the arrival of the first cherry blossom trees from Japan). I just needed the break from the stress of preparing for that art event as well as the recent stresses in my personal life stemming from my health problems and marital serparation. I took my camera and took a boatload of pictures which I whittled down to the ones I posted in this entry.

A group of sailors wait to go inside the Naval Heritage Center near the location of the Sakura Matsuri festival grounds.

Sailors Outside Naval Heritage Center, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

Here are some banners with some inspirational message at the Sakura Matsuri festival.

Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 15, 2012

One tent included some people getting seriously involved in the Japanese board game Go.

Go Game, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 15, 2012

One tent offered an opportunity to learn some Japanese.

Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

This cherry blossom tree had leaves made from green paper (which were also inscribed with messages) and flowers made from pink marshmallows.

Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

This booth had banners where people could write messages for the people who are living near the beleagured Fukushima Nuclear Power Plant.

Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

This booth featured some lovely Japanese art.

Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

Here’s the sign announcing the Beer Garden featuring the Japanese beer Kirin. Last Saturday there was a similar beer garden at the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival but that one was way bigger than the one at the Sakura Matsuri. In addition, the smaller Beer Garden was very packed with people so I didn’t bother drinking any beer this week.

Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

Here are some nice looking bonsai.

Bonsai, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

Unlike previous years that I attended the Sakura Matsuri, I arrived at the festival later in the afternoon this year. The big advantage is that I was able to eat lunch at home without having to wait in long food lines at the festival. The only food I purchased at the festival was a couple of sweet treats from one booth. The wrapping was so gorgeous that it was almost a shame to rip it all apart. But I opened both wrappers when I got back home. The treat on the left side of the photo below was a cherry that was coated with a Jello-like substance. That treat tasted okay but I preferred the treat on the right. It was known as a Fuku Watashi but it was basically a wafer sandwich that had cream in the middle. That one was very delicious.

Japanese Snacks, Sakura Matsuri, April 14, 2012

One tent had a demonstration of the latest video games from Japan.

Video Game Demonstration, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Video Game Demonstration, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

There was plenty of live entertainment from Japan at this festival.

Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

Here are the Japanese dolls and action figures that were for sale.

Dolls, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Dolls, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Dolls, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Dolls, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Dolls, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

There was a wide variety of jewelry and ornaments for sale.

Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

One could buy a kimono or yukata at this festival.

Kimonos, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

There was a wide variety of masks and hats that one could buy that were shaped like various cartoon/video game characters.

Masks, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Hats, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 15, 2012

There were all kinds of plushies available for sale.

Plushies, Sakrua Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Plushies, Sakrua Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Plushies, Sakrua Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

The most unique plushies were sold by this booth that specialized in sushi plushies. Seriously!

Plushies, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

Like previous years, there were plenty of people engaged in cosplaying at this year’s Sakura Matsuri.

Cosplayers, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Cosplayers, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Cosplayers, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Cosplayers, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Cosplayers, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Cosplayers, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Cosplayers, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Cosplayers, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Cosplayers, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Cosplayers, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Cosplayers, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Cosplayers, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012
Cosplayers, Sakura Matsuri, Washington, DC, April 14, 2012

Passover

Last Saturday I decided to check out the Southwest Waterfront Fireworks Festival, which was held as part of the Centennial National Cherry Blossom Festival. It started at 1 p.m. and went on until the closing fireworks started at 8:30 p.m. I headed in the early afternoon and left long before it became dark mainly because I took a long walk and the festival got more and more crowded as the day went on. But it was a glorious sunny day where the temperature wasn’t too hot or too cold.

If you look at the history of the Southwest Waterfront area of Washington, DC, you’d know that it originally housed working-class people until the 1950’s when the city decided to undergo this ambitious urban renewal project. Not only were whole families displaced to other parts of the city but there have been plenty of criticism of the modern architeture that replaced the original historic buildings. Here’s an example.

Southwest Waterfront, Washington, DC

This modern triangular building is actually the Riverside Baptist Church.

Southwest Waterfront, Washington, DC

No, this isn’t Walt Disney World’s Tomorrowland area of the Magic Kingdom. This is actually the federal government offices of the Department of Housing and Urban Development.

Southwest Waterfront, Washington, DC

This next picture shows some rowhouses that were among the few historic buildings that weren’t destroyed by urban renewal.

Southwest Waterfront, Washington, DC

Here’s the shot tower at Fort McNair, a historic army base that remains in operation at the Southwest Waterfront.

Fort McNair, Washington, DC

This year marks not only the 100th anniversary of the planting of the cherry blossom trees that were sent to Washington, DC from Japan. April 14 will mark the 100th anniversary of the sinking of the RMS Titanic, which cost a lot of lives mainly because the ship didn’t have enough lifeboats for everyone after the ship hit an iceberg and started to sink. This memorial below was erected to honor the men on the Titanic who gave up their lives by allowing women and children priority on boarding the lifeboats.

Titanic Memorial, Washington, DC

It has been a number of years since I last visited the Titanic memorial but the one thought that struck me as I viewed the memorial is this: I now know where Titanic director James Cameron may have gotten the idea of these famous scenes from.

;

After I visited the Titanic memorial, I walked along the Southwest Waterfront trail, which is very scenic.

Southwest Waterfront, Washington, DC
Maine Lobsterman Statue, Washington, DC

Here are some signs that greeted me as I reached the area where the festival took place.

Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012
Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012

Some children were sailing some homemade boats in a pond.

Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012
Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012

These people were creating cherry blossoms and animals from balloons.

Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012
Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012

This photo below shows one of three stages that featured a variety of musical acts at the festival.

Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012

Here are some of the official National Cherry Blossom Festival Centennial souvenirs that were available for sale.

Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012

Here’s the John H. Glenn Fireboat Spectacular.

Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012

There was actually an outdoor display and demonstration of the latest Glade air freshner products.

Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012
Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012

A hands-on origami demonstration.

Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012

A few pirate cosplayers.

Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012

The flags of Japan and the United States fly high in the breeze.

Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012

These people wore goofy hats while selling various toys on carts.

Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012
Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012

Here’s the Waterfront Beer Garden where you can get the Japanese beer Kirin on tap for $5.

Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012
Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012
Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012
Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012

I stood in line outside this Safeway booth where I got a free Cherry Blossom Festival bag (marked with Safeway’s logo), a free bag of chips, a free granola bar, and a free sample of this cherry flavored health drink.

Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012

My visit to the Southwest Waterfront Festival ended with a visit to The Verry Cherry Marketplace section that featured handcrafted items from local artisans.

Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012
Southwest Waterfront Festival, Washington, DC, April 7, 2012

Due to my own tight budget these days, I didn’t buy anything there. But there were a few booths that I really liked including:

Michele Banks

Peaceful Pendants

Matthew Parker

Red Persimmon Imports

Rayhart

Lanyapi Designs

Toro Mata

Three Stone Steps

Jean-Louis Monfraix

bellajenna

Be Fused Hot Glass Jewelry Design: website, Etsy

Turtle’s Webb: website, blog1, blog2

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