32nd Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Festival

May is American-Pacific American Heritage Month, and to celebrate, I attended the 32nd Asian American & Pacific Islander Heritage Festival at Union Square on Mother’s Day. It was organized in New York by the Coalition of Asian Pacific Americans (CAPA), who amassed an eclectic representation of the many Asian cultures found in the city.

establishing shot
The Japanese flag welcomes visitors to the festival in Union Square
The crowd enjoys the food and activities
Buildings in Union Square surround the festival

The theme of the day focused on the journeys our ancestors took from all corners of Asia and the Pacific to have successful lives in America. They became Americans, but they never let go of the rich cultural traditions of their native lands.

Taiko drumming group Taikoza performs
Finale of Taikoza's performance

Of course, a huge attraction at any festival is food, and there was no shortage of that here.

Folks lined up for okonomiyaki


Here is a line for okonomiyaki, a popular Japanese comfort food. It’s usually described as a Japanese pizza or savory pancake.





Cooking okonomiyaki




The style of okonomiyaki being cooked here is from Hiroshima and contains soba noodles.



Eating okonomiyaki











Hakata Ton Ton



Popular West Village eatery Hakata Ton Ton serves up “Shake Salad Ramen.”













Line to sample wares from Umi no Ie




Umi no Ie, a restaurant in the East Village, sold food as well.








J-pop culture, represented by Reni Mimura and her maids

In addition to cultural performances and cuisine, many political and civic groups were represented, including three I found particularly interesting:

  • Asian American Arts Alliance – A service organization dedicated to providing a community and resources to Asian American artists
  • Asian American Journalists Association – A non-profit educational organization for Asian American and Pacific Islander journalists
  • Japanese American Citizens League – An advocacy group that fights discrimination against people with Japanese ancestry, provides education about the Japanese American experience, and preserves the cultural heritage of Japanese Americans

I joined all three groups within days of the festival, and I look forward to contributing to each.


Visitors gather info about organizations
Yard sale for Japan relief
Browsing through yard sale offerings
Civic groups had tables at the festival
Crane yukata