Music Feature

Experience Japanese Culture at the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival

by Kristen Gillette
Two.One.Five's Top Picks at the 2012 Cherry Blossom Festival.


Every year, the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia hosts the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival to help bring a better understanding of the cultural, social and educational customs of Japan.

While Japan has been celebrating the cherry blossom’s beauty for hundreds of years, Philadelphia’s festival will allow you to experience a little bit of the tradition locally with a wide variety of events offering something everyone can enjoy.

We know there’s a lot of to choose from, so we picked out a few of our favorite events. Check out Two.One.Five’s top five picks for this year’s festival, from sushi-making classes to the Prettiest in Pink Pet Contest.

Sushi Making Class at the Headhouse; Sunday, April 8, 2:00pm to 4:00pm

Learn to make your own sushi as taught by Philadelphia’s Queen of Sushi, Madame Saito. You will learn the basics of sushi making as well as how to make your own sushi rolls. Be sure to bring containers so that you can enjoy the delicious leftovers. The cost is $30; make sure to register by phone (215-922-2515) so you can participate in this exciting class.

Ikebana Flower Arranging at Morris Arboretum;Saturday, April 14 and Saturday, April 21, 1:00pm to 3:00pm

This workshop will demonstrate Ikebana, the art of Japanese floral arrangement. Unlike western floral arranging, Ikebana focuses on simplicity using line, space, and texture to create a balanced, harmonious arrangement while following specific guidelines which still allowing for some expression. Each class, taught by Janet Solomon, a professor at Ikenobo Ikebana School, will teach a different arrangement style. Please bring garden clippers, a pint-sized margarine container, a kenzan or pin holder, and a low-flat-bottomed round or rectangular container, an eight-inch cake pan will do.

Cost is $62 for Morris Arboretum / JASGP members; $68 for non-members.

Cherry Blossom 5K Walk/Run at Fairmount Park: Sunday, April 15th at 8am

Both trained athletes and amateurs are invited to participate in the 3rd annual Cherry Blossom 5K Walk/Run. The race will benefit ASGP Community Tree Planting Project, which plants and maintains cherry blossom trees and fosters environmental appreciation and awareness inspired by Japanese culture.

Cost is $20 for JASGP membersand $25 non-members. Register here.

Sakura Sunday at Fairmount Park; Sunday, April 15, 10:30am to 4 p.m.

The centerpiece event of the festival; Sakura Sunday will include a wide variety of exciting performances as well as hands on activities. The main stage performance will be Tamagawa Taiko Drum & Dance, where impressive taiko drumming and energetic Japanese dancing are combined in their original and traditional work. Tamagawa is ranked in the top 3 taiko groups in the world.

Other activities at Sakura Sunday include tea ceremony, swordcutting, calligraphy, karate and origami demonstrations, and Zenkaikon Cosplay and Harajuku fashion shows.  Be sure to try your hand at origami, calligraphy and other Japanese craft workshops to fully immerse yourself in Japanese culture.

Make sure to bring Fido along to participate in the Prettiest Pet in Pink contest. Owners of pets dressed in pink will parade their pets around the sundial to be judged.

Come for the whole day or to just have a picnic beneath the blooming cherry blossom trees. Admission is $5 (children 14 & under are free), or take a shuttle from the Horticulture Center for $8 (admission is included).

Samurai Arts & Kimono Dressing at Morris Arboretum; Saturday, April 21, 11:00am to 2:00pm

Back by popular demand, at 11am, the River of Life Martial Arts & Wellness Center will present Ken Jutsu, the ancient swordsmanship technique which was used on the Samurai battlefield. Ken Jutsu consists of personal combat and strategy that has been adapted today to help find harmony in one’s life.

At 1pm, Fumiyo Batta, cultural ambassador of the Cherry Blossom Festival, will show off her extensive collection of kimonos as well as how to properly wear them. Participation from the audience encouraged. Batta has given many Kimono demonstration and classes throughout the lifetime of the festival and is considered to be significant Japanese cultural asset in the Delaware county area.

Both demonstrations are free with admission to the Morris Arboretum; $16 for adults; $7 for students and children.

Check out for more info on these events and more. 

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