Press Releases

Japan and U.S. Celebrate 150 Years of Relations

Both Countries Host Events, Exhibitions, Parades, and Contests.

A New Web Site: is Launched.

New York, NY . . . March 19, 2003 . . . From July 8, 1853 when Commodore Matthew Perry and his East India Fleet first arrived in Japan, to the signing of the Treaty of Peace and Amity on March 31, 1854 through the present day, the relations between Japan and the United States have had their ups and downs. However, for the last 50 years relations have been marked by nothing less than mutual friendship and cooperation. This year both countries will celebrate the 150th anniversary of that relationship -- which has become one of the closest political, cultural and economic relationships of our time -- with a series of events, exhibitions, contests and parades.

One of the biggest ceremonies in Japan will be held May 16-18 in the port city of Shimoda (Izu Peninsula, 90 miles south of Tokyo), where Commodore Perry's ships first docked. While Shimoda has held a commemorative ceremony annually for the last 63 years, the 2003 event promises to be its most elaborate. Bands from the US Naval fleet based in Japan will lead a parade of Japanese and Americans in period costumes and replica period American ships will be docked in the harbor with fireworks lighting up the night sky. Howard Baker, the U.S. Ambassador to Japan, will speak at the ceremonies.

In addition, at Shimoda City's Ryosenji Temple, an exhibition of artifacts related to Commodore Perry will be on exhibit from April 29-June 30, 2003.

After Shimoda, Perry and his fleet moved up the Izu Peninsula to the port of Uraga, about ten miles south of Yokohama Bay. Uraga City's celebrations begin this year on April 29th with a traditional Japanese matsuri (festival). On May 5th, in the area port of Yokosuka, a spectacular display of tall ships will fill the harbor. From May 5-6, the Yokosuka City Museum ( will showcase Historical Yokosuka, an exhibition of Yokosuka photographs and memorabilia from 1953 -- during the 100th anniversary US-Japan relations celebration. On July 12th, at Yakosuka's Kurihama Station, the Perry Festival will begin with a reenactment of the signing of the 1854 Peace Treaty, accompanied by fireworks and a parade.

The biggest celebration in Yokosuka will take place August 1-3, 2003. The four-part program will include: flamboyant street dancing, a parade, fireworks, and a Daihachi Cart Obstacle Course Race. This is a traditional two-wheeled four-person cargo vehicle, resembling a rickshaw.

Back in the United States, the 41 Japan-America Societies ( across the country will host lectures, seminars, demonstrations, and artist exchanges. The Japan Society of Boston, which is the oldest Japan Society in the United States, will celebrate its 100th anniversary in 2004. As such, they are seriously focusing on the 150th anniversary. Their US-based events include: a monthly US-Japan 150th Anniversary Concert Series premiering in June 2003; a Commodore Perry Ships Festival to be held in Newport, RI in July 2003; and a lecture entitled The Origin of Pro-Japan in the US, to take place in August 2003.

In addition, a number of nonprofit friendship organizations are promoting their Japan exchange programs. The Reston, VA-based Manjiro Society for International Exchange ( is hosting its 13th Japan America Grassroots Summit, this year in Chiba and Tokyo Japan, October 14-21, 2003. Registration deadline is July 31st, and total cost per person from the east coast for tours, meals, accommodations, airfare and transfers is just $1999. The Haiku Society of America ( and the Japan-US 150 Committee have organized a Haiku Contest for adults and children. Contest rules can be found at

There are also approximately 200 cities in Japan that maintain sister-city relationships with a counterpart US city. To find out about 2003/2004 exchange programs through one of these organizations visit:

A complete listing of anniversary events is being updated regularly on the newly launched Web site. This site will also be linked to JNTO's newly revised North American website:

Notes Kunio Kishimoto, Executive Director of the Japan National Tourist Organization's New York Office, "In these times of economic and political uncertainty, it is comforting to know that on the other side of the world there is a country where Americans can travel and experience a different culture but at the same time feel safe and welcome. Japan is a country which continues to welcome intellectual, cultural and grass-roots exchanges, further strengthening ties between our two nations."

Information is provided as a courtesy to users of this website. Though the JNTO endeavors to ensure the information is accurate, users of the information are to act on such using their own judgement and at their own risk. Neither the JNTO nor any holder of copyright to the information shall be held responsible in any way whatsoever for any loss or misunderstanding, either direct or indirect, that is incurred as a result of utilizing the information.

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