George Takei is New York’s first Grand Marshal of the Japan Parade
NEW YORK >> ‘Star Trek’ actor George Takei said the first-ever Japan Parade in New York City was out of this world.
Takei was honored to be the inaugural Grand Marshal of Saturday’s event, which celebrated friendship between New York and Japan with floats and performances on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
“I will be the first-ever Grand Marshal of the Japan Parade,” Takei told the Daily News ahead of the event. “I boldly go where no one has gone before.”
Saturday’s celebrations began with an opening ceremony near West 70th Street in Central Park West, and the parade moved from West 81st Street to West 68th Street.
The parade included performances by Japanese Folk Dance of NY, performers from the musical Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon The Super Live, and organizations such as Anime NYC and Hello Kitty. A Japan Street Fair was also held on W. 69th St.
“I’m driving in this orange Toyota convertible, and hopefully all of New York City will gather there at Central Park West,” said Takei, 85. “I’ll wave to them and share my happiness.”
The parade is part of New York’s annual Japan Day, which began in 2007 and serves as a cultural celebration.
Takei, whose grandparents were born in Japan, said Ambassador Mikio Mori of the Japanese Consulate General in New York invited him to be the grand marshal of the parade.
The actor, who portrayed Hikaru Sulu in several ‘Star Trek’ series and movies, says he’s proud of his Japanese heritage.
“I climbed to the top of Mount Fuji when I went to summer school in Tokyo, so I was on the top of Japan,” Takei told The News. “I went with a group of my classmates and we climbed to the top all night because it’s too hot during the day and they only allow these hikes in the summer.
“I carried a bottle of champagne in my backpack. We got there before dawn, so we all sat on top of Japan, waiting for first light and toasting to the world.”
Los Angeles-born Takei has a long history of contributing to US-Japan relations. He is Chairman Emeritus of the Board of Trustees of the National Japan-American Museum in LA and served on the committee of former President Bill Clinton’s Intercountry Friendship Commission.
Takei was one of 120,000 Japanese-Americans imprisoned in internment camps across the United States during World War II. He recalls soldiers with guns ordering him and his family out of their home when he was 5, taking them to “the most desolate places” and people being “rounded up at gunpoint.”
“It was a unique Japanese-American experience,” said Takei. “Having that, I know how important it is to have the country of my birth and citizenship and the country of my ancestors to love each other. There is this special motivation for me.”
Takei helped launch a musical about the detention camps, Allegiance, which premiered on Broadway in 2015. He considers opening this show one of his fondest memories of New York, along with attending the city’s Pride March and visiting the top of the Empire State Building as a teenager.
“It’s what makes New York such a unique, extraordinary city,” said Takei. “You don’t have one [moment] that surpasses all others. There are so many of those unforgettable, cherished moments and I’m sure being the Grand Marshal of the Japan Parade will be one of them.”
Comments are closed.