Cinco de Mayo is a day observed in commemoration of the Mexican army’s victory over French forces at the Battle of Puebla on May 5, 1862. It is commonly accepted that the holiday is celebrated in Mexico and the U.S. but did you know that Japan also celebrates during Golden Week?
The largest Cinco de Mayo festival in Japan is held at Yoyogi Park in Tokyo and also Osaka Castle Park in the Kansai Region. The event features music, dance, food and drinks from more than ten countries including Mexico, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Peru and the U.S. Over forty food stands line the interior of the park along with beverage stands promoting Jose Cuervo and Tecate beer, just to name a few. There are mariachi bands, Brazilian martial arts demonstrations, a piñata for the kids, folklore dance groups and performers from the various countries represented.
The Cinco de Mayo celebrations were the brainchild of Steven Kim, a Korean American from Atlanta, Georgia who came to Japan in 1989. Prior to this event there was no major festival in Japan to showcase the cuisines, beverages and cultures of these dynamic countries.
The festival runs for two days in Toyko (May 3rd – 4th) beginning at 10:00 AM. The Cinco de Mayo celebrations at Osaka Castle Park run from May 4th -6th, beginning at 11:00 AM. There is no admission charge at either location but do note that you will need to pay ¥500 for a wristband which enables you to purchase food and beverages. The Tokyo event has recorded over 100,000 visitors annually.
Yoyogi Park has hosted some of the best international festivals over the years including the Thai, the Brazilian and the Jamaican festivals. The Cinco de Mayo Festival began in 2013 and has been going strong ever since. So venture out and see how Cinco de Mayo is celebrated in Japan!
Largest dish of paella I have ever seen.
Photos courtesy of Cinco de Mayo Japan