The matter of good neighbors

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Gathering around the Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis Reservoir. Photo: JH.

Monday, May 16, 2022. A beautiful Spring weekend in New York with lots of sunshine, some cloudiness, and temps reaching up into the 70s. There’s beauty all around now too. The park on the next block is flourishing and the trees are now providing the fresh green that reminds you of the natural rebirth.The world may be full of danger and madness all around, but Mother Nature is not impressed and continues to move on.

This kind of weather brings out the crowds all over town. Sundays especially are quiet except many New Yorkers (and visitors) are out taking in the city including the parks, crowned of course by Central Park festooning. Joy.

Then there’s the unexpected. Saturday morning Paige Peterson called me early to tell me that she was at the Japan parade. What?

Paige is the neighbor-journalist-photographer-painter (she also put in time on the stage) who lives on Central Park West and covers the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade for us. Like a lot of us New Yorkers she’s often taking in the action on the street from her windows. That is, I’m imagining, how she discovered the Japan parade.

It’s a first, the Japan Parade, and it began on Saturday in the upper 80s on CPW — the area where Paige lives — and where the Thanksgiving Day Parade sets up and begins. The Japan Parade was designed and organized to give New Yorkers a comprehensive appeal of Japan. It contained everything from drums (oooh, the drums!!), dance, and martial arts to animation. The objective is to further strengthen Japan-US exchanges through delicious Japanese cuisines and activities.

The theme for that was “Festival Yatai (Outdoor) gourmet.” They introduced Japanese street food such as Ramen, Soba, Okonomiyaki and more — with the cooperation of local restaurant officials. Also Japanese tea by a donation from a company that supports the Parade. The Street Fair is part of the export promotion efforts of Japanese foods  by the Japan Export Platform NY.

The way Paige described the activity was as an intention to make New Yorkers more aware of its Japanese community as well as promote the matter of good neighbors all around.

I’m old enough to remember the outcome of the Second World War which included the US against Japan, and the first atom bombs which we dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. This country already had a large segment of Japanese US citizens, at the time, many of whom were Americans by birth. Many were imprisoned in internment camps during that wartime mid-20th century.

I thought of that fact when I heard about this parade. And it occurred to me how ironic it was that we were engaged in that brutal war with those people who are now our friends (for generations). Our world is full of those terrible ironies. Hail to our neighbors who happen to be Japanese or any other birth background.

Meanwhile, the parade. Paige had made that call to suggest we run her coverage. And since we already know how she can tune in with her camera and find the stories, we agreed it was a good idea. This was before I saw her photos and was being politely interested.

Then she sent me the video she took of the drums! I loved it. I watched it three times in a row.

Then I saw the treasure — her coverage of the Japan Parade. Thank you to our brothers and sisters of the Japanese background, neighbors and friends.

What a good idea!

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