NEW YORK — “Star Trek” actor George Takei expects New York City’s first-ever Japan Parade to be out of this world.
Takei feels honored to be the inaugural grand marshal of Saturday’s event, which will celebrate the friendship between New York and Japan with floats and performances on Manhattan’s Upper West Side.
“I get to be the very first grand marshal of the Japan Parade,” Takei told the Daily News. “I’m boldly going where no one else has gone before.”
Saturday’s festivities kick off with an opening ceremony near West 70th Street at Central Park West at 12:30 p.m., with the parade set to start at 1 p.m. and travel from West 81st Street to West 68th Street.
The parade will feature performances by Japanese Folk Dance of NY, cast members of the musical “Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon The Super Live,” and organizations such as Anime NYC and “Hello Kitty.” A Japan Street Fair will be held on W. 69th St. from 1-4 p.m.
“I’m riding on this orange-colored Toyota convertible, and all of New York City hopefully will be gathered there on Central Park West,” Takei, 85, said. “I’ll be waving to them and sharing my happiness.”
The parade is part of New York’s annual Japan Day, which began in 2007 and serves as a celebration of culture.
Takei, whose grandparents were born in Japan, says Ambassador Mikio Mori of the Consulate General of Japan in New York invited him to be the parade’s grand marshal.
The actor, who portrayed Hikaru Sulu across multiple “Star Trek” series and films, says he’s proud of his Japanese heritage.
“I climbed to the top of Mount Fuji when I was going to summer school in Tokyo, so I have been to the top of Japan,” Takei told The News. “I went with a group of my classmates and we climbed all night long to the top because it’s too hot during the daytime, and it’s only during the summer that they allow these hikes.
“I carried in my backpack a bottle of champagne. We got there before daybreak, so we all sat on top of Japan, waited for the first light of day, and we toasted to the world.”
The Los Angeles-born Takei has a long history of contributing to relations between the U.S. and Japan. He is chairman emeritus of the board of trustees for the Japanese American National Museum in L.A., and was part of former President Bill Clinton’s Friendship Commission board between the countries.
Takei was one of 120,000 Japanese Americans who were imprisoned at internment camps in the U.S. during World War II. He recalls soldiers with rifles ordering him and his family out of their home when he was 5, being taken to “the most desolate places,” and people being “rounded up at gunpoint.”
“It was a uniquely Japanese American experience,” Takei said. “Having had that, I know the vital importance of having the country of my birth and my citizenship, and the country of my ancestry, to love each other. There’s that special motivation for me.”
Takei helped launch a musical about the internment camps, “Allegiance,” that opened on Broadway in 2015. He considers opening that show among his favorite New York memories, along with taking part in the city’s Pride March and visiting the top of the Empire State Building as a teenager.
“That’s the thing that makes New York such a singular, extraordinary city,” Takei said. “You don’t have one [moment] that surpasses all others. There are so many of these unforgettable, cherished moments, and I’m sure being the grand marshal of the Japan Parade is going to be one of those.”
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