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Posted at 11:48 AM ET, 03/10/2006

More Than Flowers

By Fritz Hahn

Trees, sushi and origami have their roles to play in the National Cherry Blossom Festival, but we've heard about some very interesting additions to this year's celebration, which begins on March 25.

Cyclists can take advantage of free valet bike parking. Drop off your bike at a stand near 15th and Independence, take in the festival, and when you're ready to leave, a professional bike wrangler will fetch your ride. You'll need a valid ID to use this service, offered between 2 and 7 p.m. on Fridays and 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. Saturdays and Sundays.

Beginning in late March, those much-loved (and under-used) Circulator buses are adding a new route aimed at tourists. The Smithsonian Loop runs between 3rd and 17th Streets NW along Constitution and Independence avenues, serving all the essential museums between the National Museum of the American Indian and the Washington Monument and improving visitor access to the Tidal Basin. Yes, there are Metro stops nearby, but the five blocks between the Smithsonian station and the cherry blossoms can seem like a mile when you've got antsy toddlers in tow or three generations of relatives are visiting.

The Sakura Matsuri Street Festival, which features traditional Japanese culture (martial arts, origami, folk dance) and the Taste of Japan foodie festival, is taking a trendier tack this year, embracing younger Japanese culture with "J-Pop Land," an area dedicated to Japanese pop music, karaoke, outdoor anime screens, manga and Dance Dance Revolution (both DDR Extreme 2 and DDR Ultramix 3). While the featured band hasn't been announced, former Ambassador John Malott, the president of the Japan-America Society of Washington D.C., promised "the hottest pop group from Toyko" during his speech. Let's hope this isn't hyperbole.

Japanese brewer Sapporo is sponsoring a Sapporo Beer Garden during the street festival. Kampai!

-- Fritz

By Fritz Hahn  | March 10, 2006; 11:48 AM ET
Categories:  Misc.  
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There will also be the phenomenon of "cosplaying" at the Street Festival- people dressing up as their favorite anime character, jpop singer, or just in kimonos for fun. Look out for people in black and white japanese outfits at the street festival!

Posted by: Cosplayer | March 14, 2006 10:51 PM | Report abuse

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