The Japan-America Society and Black Ships Festival of Rhode Island will host the 39th Annual Black Ships Festival on Friday, June 10th through the 12th.

The Festival Opening Ceremonies begin the weekend’s festivities at Rockwell Park in Bristol, at 10:00 am. 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 will give speeches, with colors presented by the Bristol Police Department. 

Friday night at 6:30 pm join us at Rockwell Park in Bristol for a fantastic, Free Event, Taiko Drum Performance, sponsored in part by Baba Sushi of Bristol. 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 that summons people to seek out its source! 

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, June 10th, at 12:00 pm, and Sunday, June 12th, at 2:00 pm, 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.

Black Ships

June 11th, the action moves to Independence Park on Thames Street in Bristol, 10:30 am-3:30 pm for our Arts & Crafts and Martial Arts Fair. Bristol Garden Club will be featuring Ikebana and Kokedama. There will be martial arts demos and vendor booths. Another highlight will be a Kendama demonstration and competition with prizes. Japanese Language Students of Classical High School will join the festivities, making origami, calligraphy, Japanese Arts & Crafts, and traditional Kimono Dressing. Taiko Drumming Performances will display powerful sounds using martial arts techniques. The Japanese Consulate will be featuring Japanese games, and celebrate the summer holiday of Tanabata. Guests will have an enhanced Japanese cultural experience all afternoon as Independence Park is transformed into a Japanese-American Cultural Center.  

The evening of Saturday, June 11th 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 Ochre Court in Newport will include a Taiko drumming performance, dancing, an open bar, wines by Oyster Bay Wines, and Japanese Lager by Rejects Beer Company. Sushi by Haruki and an elegant sit-down dinner.

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

For further information or pictures, visit or call (401) 847-7666.