So the confusion as to how big the Japan Block party was stemmed from the fact that this was two separate block parties in 1. There was a 1 block fair focused specifically on Japanese restaurants, products and charities like Table for 2. Continuing on for another 6 blocks was the standard NY street fair. Think Canoli, Mozzarepas, NY Times subscriptions, and discount rugs. Not sure why these two fairs were held together, but it definitely diluted the Japan block fair experience. The food was amazing, with the perfect combination of street fair with Japanese food going to Japadog. In a nod to the pre-Bloomberg, pre-Giuliani New York, many vendors even served beer, though it was Kirin Free so as to keep with local ordinance banning alcohol from these types of public events.
Beyond all of the great food, NASCAR driver Akinori Ogata was on hand. I have to admit, when I first read that he was coming, my reaction was “he’s coming to do what?” He actually hung out with everyone and was incredibly accessible. The entire time I attended the event, he was out among the crowd talking about both NASCAR and racing in general. In a New York where celebrities either at worst have an attitude, or at best simply prefer being left alone, a NASCAR driver spending his afternoon chatting with people off the street was a refreshing experience.