The National Cherry Blossom Festival’s signature Opening Ceremony is an artistic celebration of the 1912 gift of trees from Tokyo to Washington, D.C., and an annual tribute to the longstanding friendship between Japan and the United States. This unique, one-time-only performance will feature special performances from acclaimed artists with ties to both countries.

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Minyo Crusaders at Opening Ceremony

The Minyo Crusaders is a 10-piece band that combine Japanese traditional folk songs, Minyo, with various rhythms from Latin, Afro-Cuban, and Afro-Caribbean music. Co-founded by Mr. Katsumi Tanaka and Mr. Freddie Tsukamoto in 2011, the musical identity of the Minyo Crusaders was strongly influenced by the energy of Fussa, a city in west Tokyo where the U.S. military base of Yokota is located. In Fussa, a couple of Japanese Latin music bands, Tokyo Cuban Boys and Noche Cubana, were quite popular right after World War Two. The unique energy in Fussa as well as the vibrant energy of Latin music inspired Ms. Tanaka and Mr. Tsukamoto to start the Minyo Crusaders.

The Minyo Crusaders released their first album “Echoes of Japan” in 2017. The album was well received. Subsequently, the Minyo Crusaders were invited to perform at Fuji Rock Festival, one of the largest music festivals in Japan. They also made an appearance at the Tokyo Jazz Festival, and they ended up performing in many other festivals of world music. They performed with the Tokyo Cuban Boys in one of those occasions.

After reissuing their first album in a U.K. online platform in 2019, the Minyo Crusaders kicked off their Colombia Tour. From 2019 to 2020, they also had a European tour as well as an Austria/New Zealand tour. They were well received everywhere they paid a visit. The live music from their performance in “Le Guess Who?” a music festival in Utrecht, the Netherlands, was released as a live music album in 2021.

In 2020, the Minyo Crusaders collaborated with Frente Cumbiero,  a renowned Cumbia musical group from Colombia. Together, they released an album “From Tokyo to Bogota – Minyo Cumbiero.” The music video of one of the songs in the album, “Cumbia Del Monte Fuji,” was viewed more than 550,000 times on YouTube and was well received by the public. 

Due to the pandemic, their activities in 2021 were mostly limited to online performances. The Minyo Crusaders performed in “Tiny Desk Meets globalFEST,” an online concert series in collaboration between New York’s music festival globalFEST and National Public Radio; “TD Sunfest” online music festival in Ontario, Canada; as well as “Concert of Colors,” an annual diversity-themed music festival in Detroit.

Mr. Yuji Moriwaki directed a documentary “Bring Minyo Back!” It depicts the journey of the Minyo Crusaderes to revive the power of Minyo folk songs. The documentary was invited to be screened IN-EDIT, an international music documentary and film festival held in Barcelona, Spain, in November 2021.

The Minyo Crusaders perform internationally and locally at music concerts and festivals, making appearances in TV programs and movies. They eagerly collaborate with the other musicians and often make guest appearances in their shows. The Minyo Crusaders keep reaching out to broader audiences all over the world.


Keisho Ohno & Toshihiro Yuta

Keisho Ohno Performer

Keisho Ohno, Musician, Shamisen Player

Born in Niigata city, Mr. Ohno started playing Tsugaru shamisen at the age of eight and acquired the expert status of Natori* at the age of twelve. At the age of fourteen, Mr. Ohno was acknowledged by Shamisen master, Takahashi Chikuzan I, to become the successor of the Chikuzan School. (Natori*: a person who has acquired a superb skill in performing arts and is allowed to use a stage name given by his/her master.)  In 2006, he made an appearance as the first ever Tsugaru shamisen player at SXSW (South by Southwest), the world’s largest live music event held in Austin, Texas, which was followed by his successful US solo tour. He was also invited to perform at the reception of the 2010 FIFA World Cup South Africa. He debuted in Europe in 2011 with his single “KAMOME”. He performed at the 2013 Tokyo International Conference on African Development (TICAD), the 2014 Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), and the 2018 Ministerial Conference in Paris. Mr. Ohno was invited perform in Paris at the “Japonismes 2018 ~ Resonating Souls ~” an international cultural event organized by the governments of Japan and France. He has also performed at Festival Internacional Cervantino (FIC), the largest performing art festival in Latin America, held in Mexico in 2019. As a renowned Tsugaru shamisen player, Mr. Ohno has performed in ninety-three cities of forty-three countries around the world.

Toshihiro Yuta with drums

Toshihiro Yuta, Musician, Japanese Taiko Drum Player

Born in 1974 and bred in Osaka, Mr. Yuta started drumming lessons in high school and joined Maitaiko Asuka-gumi at the age of nineteen. Maitaiko Asuka-gumi is a professional performance group based in the Kansai area in Japan which specializes in Japanese traditional Taiko drumming. As a company member, Mr. Yuta developed his unique technique that set him apart from any other in the group. Now, as a solo artist,  Mr. Yuta keeps the classical foundation of his drumming technique while seeking new direction and possibilities. His percussive approach towards the sound of traditional drumming is considered a challenge. Many artists in acknowledge Mr. Yuta’s unique style and creativity. While the sound of Japanese Taiko drums is often referred as strong and simple, Mr. Yuta’s drum sounds is considered deep and rich. His  approach focuses and projects the echoing effect of this traditional instrument. Even though he is currently based in the Kansai area in Japan, he gives both local and international performances in collaboration with other artists. His credits include performing at the 37th International Film Festival of India in 2006, FIFA World Cup related events in South Africa, and the Japan Expo Sud, both in 2010. He also performed in Art Rock held in in France in 2011. While he was touring in Europe, he performed not only in France and Germany but also at the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg. In 2019, he performed in Saudi Arabia. Mr. Yuta’s first collaboration with Keisho Ohno, Tsugaru Shamisen player, took place in Europe. Since then, they keep finding opportunities to collaborate more and perform together both in Japan and internationally.


Samurai Artist KAMUI

Kamui Samurai Artists performing

Samurai Artist KAMUI specializes in sword-fighting and Samurai action movements. The group was founded by Mr. Tetsuro Shimaguchi in 1998. Mr. Shimaguchi’s philosophical approach to Samurai aesthetics was named as “Kengido.” It is based on Samurai spirituality, Japanese traditional theater, martial arts, and the beauty of formality. Mr. Shimaguchi developed performance aspects of the philosophy and has been actively performing and teaching in Japan and all over the world.

Their theater credits in Japan include ensemble appearances in “Keren,” a 2019 martial arts entertainment show; “Tears Poured to the Land of Stars,” the 25th Anniversary musical production by Chikyu Gorgeous Theater Company in 2020; and “Reiwa Senbon Zakura: Yoshitsune and Benkei,” a theatrical variety show at Meijiza Theater in 2021. Their activities are not limited to theatrical performances. The company members of KAMUI have performed in street festivals and special events. They are often featured in media and press outlets. They also teach sword-fighting to other actors and choreograph the action scenes for TV programs and movies. They often collaborate with the other genre of the performing artists. They have collaborated with actors from Japanese traditional theaters such as Kabuki, Noh and Kyogen.  KAMUI is also known for its collaboration with traditional Japanese music such as Taiko drummers, Shakuhachi flute players, and Shamisen players. They have also collaborated with  classical ballet dancers, classical music orchestras, rock bands, trance and electronic dance musicians, and break dancers.

Mr. Shimaguchi keeps seeking to perform in the United states as well as other countries. Once, Mr. Shimaguchi was putting on a show in a streets of Los Angeles, and the movie director Quentin Tarantino happened to pass by. Mr. Tarantino casted Mr. Shimaguchi as the director of choreography for the sword-fighting scenes in the movie “Kill Bill: Vol.1” as well as the role of Miki, one of the main characters of Crazy 88, the gangster group appearing in the film. The movie premiered internationally in 2003.


Tickets have all been claimed, but walk-ups may be accommodated on a first come, first served basis. The show will be livestreamed on the Festival YouTube Channel . Details can be found here.


  • All fans must provide either proof of a negative COVID-19 test result, taken within 72 hours of the event, or proof of full COVID-19 vaccination (14 days past final vaccination shot).
  • Negative COVID-19 tests, taken within 72 hours of the event, are required for guests from ages 3 to 12. Fans 2 & Under do not require testing.  
  • Live Nation will accept all FDA allowed COVID-19 PCR, Antigen, or Molecular Tests, that is date and time stamped, within 72 hours of the event.
  • Masks are required at all times, except when actively eating and drinking.
  • Bag Policy: The venue will only allow clear plastic, vinyl, or PVC tote bags no larger than 12″ x 6″ x 12″ and/or small clutch bags (4.5″x 6.5″)


What began with a gift in 1912 at the Tidal Basin is now a four-week extravaganza spanning Washington, DC, and neighboring communities in Maryland and Virginia. Click the filters on our interactive map to see all that the Festival has to offer and craft a tailored experience as you Rediscover Spring. From exciting events to convenient hotels, delectable Cherry Picks restaurants to vibrant Art in Bloom installations, and a jaw-dropping City in Bloom to joyful Petal Porches, see the Washington, DC area as you can only see it once a year!

Supporting Sponsor



Media Partner

Washington Post


Embassy Of Japan


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