The arrival of U.S. Commodore Matthew Perry and his fleet of kurofune (black ships) on the shores of Japan in 1853 was a historic event that opened up Japan to foreign trade and initiated diplomatic ties between Japan and the United States that have lasted for more than 160 years.
Shimoda, Shizuoka Prefecture, launched the Black Ship Festival in 1934 to commemorate 80 years of cooperation between the two countries, and this year's festival, set to be held from May 17 to 19, will mark yet another 80 years.
While some ceremonies are devoted to the crew of Perry's fleet, this year's installment will also include a free concert at Shimoda Civic Cultural Center on May 18, featuring the Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force Band and the U.S. Seventh Fleet Band. The bands will perform again on May 19, this time joined by groups of dancers and performers in period costumes.
Other activities include a fireworks display at Shimoda Bay and comedic re-enactments of the signing ceremony that took place between Japan and the U.S. to bring the countries together. (Yuki Yamauchi)
Some events may be held at a different location if it rains.