Black Ships Festival

The Japan America Society of Rhode Island is celebrating the 35th year of the Black Ships Festival on July 13-15, 2018. Started in Newport in 1984, the organization announced on Tuesday in a press release that they have expanded the Festival to Bristol this summer. 

As WJAR has reported – following a dispute, Newport and Bristol will both host a Black Ships Festival this year.

According to event organizers, The Japan America Society of Rhode Island’s Black Ships Festival is a celebration of the friendship between the country of Japan and the state of Rhode Island in commemoration of Commodore Matthew C. Perry. Commodore Perry opened trade up between the United States and Japan with the Treaty of Kanakawa in 1864. Japanese arts and crafts, martial arts, a Japanese tea ceremony and taiko drums will be some of the highlights. 

Here’s this year’s full calendar;

Friday, July 13th

Opening Ceremony, 10:30 am, Independence Park, Thames St., Bristol

Colorful ceremonies, Wreath-laying, and speeches by dignitaries. Free admission!

Sushi & Sake Sail Aboard the Schooner Aurora, 3:00 pm – 5:00pm, Goat Island Marina, Newport

Sail aboard a magnificent Tall Ship. 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: 401-846-2720, or buy online at

Taiko Drum Performance & Japanese Hip-Hop Street Dance Team, 7:00pm-8: 30 pm, Herreshoff Waterside Tent

Gendo Taiko will dazzle you with their electrifying drums. 12DC Dance Team from Shimoda, Japan will excite you with their trendy dance moves. For tickets call 401-846-2720.

Saturday, July 14th 

Arts, Crafts & Martial Arts Fair, 10:00 am – 4:00 pm, Independence Park, Thames St, Bristol

Independence Park will be transformed into a Japanese-American Cultural Center, featuring demonstrations, workshops, and displays. Including Arts and Crafts and Martial Arts Demonstrations. Street Dance Team 12DC from Shimoda, Japan will be performing throughout the weekend! Taiko Drumming Presentations, US Navy Band Performance and so much more! Free admission!

Black Ships Festival Gala, 6:30 pm, The Elegant Waterside Tent at Herreshoff Museum – Bristol, RI

Celebrate the 35th 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 Brown University Taiko Drummers. Outstanding sit down dinner prepared by Pranzi Catering, Sushi station by Haruki, handcrafted cocktails by the Cocktail Guru and a special presentation by 12DC Street Dance Team from Japan. The Gala is Presented by Toray Plastics (America), Inc. For tickets visit

For complete details visit

Ryan Belmore is the Publisher of What'sUpNewp. 
Belmore has been involved with What’sUpNewp since shortly after its launch in 2012, proudly leading it to be named Best Local News Blog in Rhode Island by Rhode Island Monthly readers in 2018, 2019, and 2020 and an honorable mention in the Common Good Awards in 2021.

Born and raised in Rhode Island, Belmore graduated from Coventry High School and the Community College of Rhode Island. In addition to living in Newport for 10 years, he has lived in Portsmouth, Coventry, Providence, Smithfield, Burrillville, and East Greenwich.

Belmore currently serves as Vice President of the Board Of Directors for Fort Adams Trust and on the Board of Directors for Potter League For Animals. He previously served on the Board of Lucy's Hearth and the Arts & Cultural Alliance for Newport County.

Belmore and his wife, Jen, currently live in Alexandria, Virginia, a move they made in 2021. Read more about that here -

Belmore visits Newport every couple of weeks to support the 12+ paid contributors What'sUpNewp has on the ground across Rhode Island, a place he called home for 39 years.

Belmore is a member of Local Independent Online News (LION) Publishers, Society of Professional Journalists, and the North American Snowsports Journalists Association.

In 2020, Belmore was named Member of the Year by LION and won the Arts & Cultural Alliance of Newport County's Dominque Award.
Belmore can be contacted at and 401-662-1653.