The Santa Cruz Japanese Festival, or the Japanese Cultural Fair, as it is also known, is an annual Santa Cruz event that gives residents and visitors alike the opportunity to get in touch with the local Japanese community. It also puts the focus on Japanese culture on the whole and facilitates a greater understanding of both the culture’s traditional and contemporary aspects.
The first Santa Cruz Japanese Festival was held in 1985. Over the years, the celebration has blossomed into one of the city’s most renowned annual events. Many of the sub events that relate to the festival are cultural performances that feature dancing and colorful costumes. Festival patrons can also sit in on storytelling sessions, observe Japanese artists as they create various arts and crafts, learn about Japanese tea ceremonies, listen to musical performances, partake in meditation-related activities, and sample authentic Japanese cuisine. Many of the sub events are held at the Main Stage area, which is found at the main fair location – Mission Plaza Park (in front of the Holy Cross Church). The address for Mission Plaza Park is 103 Emmett Street. Various side events are also held in an area that is known as the Meditation Stage and at the Aikido of Santa Cruz facility, which is found at 306 Mission Street.
Anyone who is interested in adding the Santa Cruz Japanese Festival to their Santa Cruz vacation plans should know that the annual event is typically held on a Saturday in June. The festivities generally get started around 11 am and end at around 6 pm. General admission is free, and visitors can also enjoy free shuttle service. The shuttle buses travel between the County Building (Ocean and Water streets) and Mission Plaza Park. The buses that are headed towards the park make a stop at 1200 Pacific in the downtown area after departing from the County Building. The return shuttles only travel from the park to the County Building.