Annual Japanese Summer Festival Comes Back to Edgewater

by Alex Kenney
japanese summer festival edgewater

“A Japanese festival you experience in America,” reads a flyer on the Mitsuwa New Jersey Twitter. On Saturday, Mitsuwa Marketplace in Edgewater is hosting a Japanese-style summer festival from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Every August, the Garden State’s largest Japanese shopping center brings a slice of Japanese food, music, and life to the Hudson River.

An Overview of Japanese Festivals

Summer festivals are referred to as natsumatsuri in Japanese. Traditions typically include bon odori—a group dance that dates far back into Japan’s Buddhist history—and taiko drum performances that fill your heart with the echo of rhythmic percussion. Not to mention, the smoke of delicious grilled food and fireworks at the end of the night truly completes the festival air.

Over here in Edgewater, speakers blast J-pop classics as festival goers walk around in yukata—a traditional Japanese summer dress—wearing omen, or masks. As you delve further into the festival, the smell of Japanese street food leads you to a string of tents along the waterfront.

What to Do at Mitsuwa’s Summer Festival 

Food options include, but are not limited to: okonomiyaki (a savory pancake), yakisoba noodles, takoyaki (fried octopus), dumplings, and ramen. The festival serves sweets as well, including cotton candy and shaved ice. Most food stands also have refreshing drinks like Japanese soda and Calpico, a milky, fruity drink popular in Japan.

Festivities include traditional Japanese festival games like balloon fishing, ring toss, lucky strings, hoops, mini archery, and others with plenty of chances to win prizes. Prizes for games in the past have included an inflatable Hello Kitty that can be worn around the arm and a giant inflatable Pocky stick. Unlike most years, there will unfortunately be no bon odori dance or Japanese taiko drum performance.

Surrounding stores in the plaza, including Mitsuwa itself, will remain open. The rear parking lot will be closed off to traffic to allow vendors to set up shop, so local visitors are encouraged to use public transport. The Mitsuwa NJ Twitter shared bus lines for those coming from areas surrounding Paramus, Fort Lee, West New York, and New York. Be sure to arrive at the event earlier, as food lines do tend to get long fast. 

Festival doors open to the public at 11 a.m. and close at 7 p.m. The event is free to enter and open to all ages.

About the Author/s

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Alex Kenney is a third-year Journalism and Media Studies student at Rutgers University - New Brunswick. Having lived in Bergen, Essex, and briefly Hudson County, she calls anything north of Newark home. She is a big fan of NJ Transit and knows most major highways in her area like the back of her hand, even though she doesn’t drive.

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