36th Annual Black Ships Festival returns to Bristol and Newport this weekend

The Japan-America Society and Black Ships Festival of Rhode Island will host the 36th Annual Black Ships Festival on Friday, August 9th through the 11th. A delegation from Yokosuka, Japan will be joining, led Mayor Katsuaki Kamiji along with renowned artist, Mrs. Kayoko Tusuchiya from the Newport Sister City Shimoda, Japan. 

The Festival Opening Ceremonies begins the weekend’s festivities at Rockwell Park in Bristol, at 10:00am. The colorful ceremony commemorates Rhode Island’s native son, Commodore Mathew C. Perry, and the signing of the Treaty of Kanagawa, which opened trade between Japan and the United States. Dignitaries from Japan and America will give speeches, with colors presented by the Bristol Police Department. Rear Admiral Shoshana Chatfield, the new USN President of the U.S. Naval War College will be participating in the Opening Ceremonies as a speaker and wreath layer. This will be her first official appearance since arriving to the United States Navy Base in Newport, RI. The Navy Band Northeast’s Vocalist will perform the National Anthem followed by Yohji Cantar Daquio singing the Japanese National Anthem.

Friday night at 7:00pm join us for a fantastic Taiko Drum Performance. Prepared to be dazzled by Odaiko New England and their electrifying drums! The Taiko is said to be the voice and spirit of the Japanese. The sound of the Taiko has an irresistible draw the summons people to seek out its source! Free event. 

Guests have a unique opportunity to set sail aboard the impressive Tall Ship, the 101’ Schooner Aurora, for the Sushi Sake Sail I & II. On Friday, August 9th, 12:15pm and Sunday, August 11th, at 1:00pm, guests board the magnificent vessel from Goat Island Marina in Newport, sip sake from Gekkeikan and sample a variety of sushi while cruising around beautiful Narragansett Bay.

- Advertisement -

August 10th, the action moves to Independence Park on Thames Street in Bristol, 10:30am-3:30pm. Arts & Crafts Demonstration with Bristol Garden Club featuring Ikebana and Kokedama, martial arts demos, vendor booths and an overall transformation into a Japanese-American Cultural Center. Japanese Language Students of Classical High School will join the festivities, making origami, calligraphy, Japanese Arts & Crafts, and traditional Kimono Dressing. Taiko Drumming Performance will display powerful sounds using martial arts techniques. The Navy Band will give a spectacular performance for the park goers. Kaji Aso Studio will lead a special tea demonstration of the centuries old CHA-DO (Way of the Tea). Guests will have an enhanced Japanese cultural experience all afternoon. 

The evening of Saturday, August 10th offers a fusion of both Japanese and American culture at the Black Ships Festival Gala beginning at 6:30pm, presented by Toray Plastic (America), Inc. This magical night at the Elegant Waterside Tent at the Herreshoff Museum in Bristol will include Taiko drumming, dancing, an open bar, wines by Oyster Bay Wines, Vodka Martini Bar with Broken Shed Vodka, Sushi by Haruki and cultural cuisine with a Japanese flare. 

The Memorial Ceremonies, at 9:00am, at Island Cemetery on Farewell Street will conclude a marvelous weekend through a Wreath Ceremony at Perry’s tomb by American and Japanese dignitaries.

Festival Opening Ceremonies

Friday, August 9th, 2019

10:00am • Rockwell Park, Bristol

​Colorful ceremonies to commemorate Rhode Island’s native son, Commodore Matthew C. Perry, and the signing of the Treaty of Kanagawa, which opened trade between Japan and the United States. Wreath-laying and speeches by American and Japanese dignitaries. Colors presented by the Bristol Police Color Guard. The Navy Band Northeast’s Vocalist will perform the National Anthem followed by 

Yohji Cantar Daquio singing the Japanese National Anthem. 

Sushi Sake Sail I

Friday, August 9th, 2019

12:15pm – 2:15pm • Goat Island Marina

Sail aboard one of the magnificent Tall Ships, the 101′ Schooner Aurora. View Newport harbor as you sip sake from Gekkeikan, and sample some great sushi. Space is limited to 68 people. A sellout every year! Sponsored by IDC, The Newport Experience. $30 per person in advance and $35 day of the event (if available). For tickets call 401-846-2720, or Online  at www.Blackshipsfestival.com

* Please arrive 15 mins prior to the sail to get checked in. Be sure to allow for traffic, boat leaves promptly. Parking for the Schooner Aurora is  Provided anywhere in the “S” Dock Parking Lot or anywhere along “A” Dock.

Taiko Drum Performances

Friday, August 9th, 2019

7:00pm – Independence Park, Bristol

Odaiko New England, dazzle with electrifying drums with martial arts movements.

Arts & Crafts, Taiko and Martial Arts Fair

Saturday, August 10th, 2019

10:30am-3:30pm – Independence Park, Bristol

Independence Park on Thames Street is transformed into a Japanese-American Cultural Center, featuring demonstrations, flower arranging, workshops, and displays. Including Arts and Crafts, Taiko, and Martial Arts exhibitions. The park will also feature the reknown artist from Newport Sister City Shimoda, Japan, Mrs. Kayoko Tsuchiya. 

Black Ships Festival Gala

Saturday, August 10th, 2019

6:30pm-10:30pm- Elegant Herreshoff Waterside Tent

​Celebrate the 36th Anniversary of the Black Ships Festival. Enjoy a formal gala honoring the signing of the Treaty of Kanagawa and the accomplishments of the United States Navy. Join us as we welcome Japanese Dignitaries, RI Officials and the US Navy.  Enjoy a unique evening that fuses both Japanese and American culture. The Gala includes dancing, an Open Bar, wines by Oyster Bay Wines, Vodka Martini Bar with Broken Shed Vodka and cultural cuisine with a Japanese flare. Begin the evening with the breaking of the Ceremonial Sake Drum filled with Gekkeikan Sake. Enjoy an exclusive Taiko drumming presentation by Odaiko New England. Outstanding sit down dinner prepared by Pranzi Catering, Sushi station by Haruki, and hand crafted cocktails with Pussers’s Rum. The Gala is Presented by Toray Plastics (America), Inc. – Buy Tickets Online at www.Blackshipsfestival.com

Memorial Ceremony

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

9:00am • Island Cemetery, Newport

Wreath ceremony at Perry’s tomb by American and Japanese dignitaries. Navy color guard, Northeast Navy Band Bugler. The public is invited to experience this commemorative service. 

Sushi Sake Sail II

Sunday, August 11th, 2019

1:00pm – 3:00pm • Goat Island Marina

Sail aboard one of the magnificent Tall Ships, the 101′ Schooner Aurora. View Newport harbor as you sip sake from Gekkeikan, and sample some great sushi. Space is limited to 68 people. A sellout every year! Sponsored by IDC, The Newport Experience. $35 per person in advance and $40 day of the event (if available). For tickets call 401-846-2720, or Online ​

* Please arrive 15 mins prior to the sail to get checked in. Be sure to allow for traffic, boat leaves promptly. Parking for the Schooner Aurora is  Provided anywhere in the “S” Dock Parking Lot or anywhere along “A” Dock. 

For further information, visit www.BlackShipsFestival.com or call (401) 847-7666.


Sign up for our free newsletter, you’ll never miss another story from What’s Up Rhode Island

* indicates required