The inaugural Japan Parade was held Saturday on Central Park West and George Whipple got to ride with the parade’s Grand Marshal, Star Trek’s Sulu — better known as George Takei.
When he was a child, he was placed in internment camps in the United States during World War ll.
Takei said being the Grand Marshal for the inaugural Japan Parade is special for him.
“Isn't that an amazing commentary on history,” Takei said. “When I was imprisoned, Japan and the United States were mortal enemies fighting a bloody war. But today, Japan is our strongest ally in Asia. And look at all these people celebrating Japan parade together, and all the diversity of America. It's a glorious day.”
Takei says the journey to today is an amazing.
“Here I am I when I was 5-years-old to eight and a half, I was behind barbed wire fences in Arkansas. That's America. I point out to you and Northern California. Again, it's America, not Japan. And we are Americans,” he said.
The parade marks the 150th Anniversary of the friendship between New York City and Japan.
Sandra Endo, a former New York City reporter and current reporter in Los Angeles, was the Master of Ceremonies. She wore a non-traditional kimono for the event.
“This is a kimono dress,” Endo said. “It’s a spin on the traditional kimono. Obviously this is for stage and fashion. But the kimono is such a tradition. And what people don't know it is so complicated to put on; you need dressers to help you.”
The Japan Parade is affiliated with Japan Day, an event that has been held every year in Central Park since 2007. Japan’s Ambassador Mikio Mori said this year also marks the 150th anniversary of American baseball was introduced in Japan.
“This is 150th anniversary of the introduction of American baseball into Japan,” Mori said. “And likewise 1872 a school teacher from Cooperstown, New York, went to Japan to teach English, but he also taught baseball to Japanese students, 150 years ago.”