― Shannon L. Alder
On April 15th, along with more than 5,000 people, I attended the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival in Philadelphia. The festival offers traditional and contemporary activities of Japan under the cherry blossoms in Fairmount Park. Sakura Sunday is an all-day celebration of all things Japanese, from live music, dance, and martial arts performances to fashion shows, arts and crafts, karaoke, and much more.
The Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival began in 1998 and initially focused on the tree planting efforts of the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia. Echoing a sesquicentennial gift of 1,600 flowering trees made by Japan to Philadelphia in 1926, JASGP pledged to plant 1,000 cherry trees in Fairmount Park. This goal was accomplished in 2007, and the mission has been expanded to plant cherry trees in community parks throughout the region. As the number of sakura (flowering Japanese cherry trees) increased, so too did Philadelphians’ interest in Japan. The Festival expanded to include an array of activities. What began as a single day ceremony is now a collection of more than 50 events over 4 weeks.
I was interested most in the live music and dancers in addition to learning how to write my name in Japanese and attempting to make origami. I really enjoy learning about the wonderful traditions of a country I know very little about, and really asked a bunch of questions as well as would like to research more in the future. Questions like wondering how different cultures developed the way they did, and why it’s so hard for some people to be open to learning more about other cultures. It also challenged my assumptions or lack of understanding about Japanese culture. I didn’t really know much about the history of the cherry blossom trees until this event. I’m so thankful to have learned some really amazing values of the growing connection between all people, and how society can work together for good to increase awareness in and understanding around culture diversity. I’ve walked away with was a greater understanding of the Japanese culture and an appreciation for its traditions.
“What a life we live. Full of questions, adventures, stories, mistakes, good, quests, bad, miracles, lessons, people, blessings, journeys, inventions, music, animals, history, cultures, religions, prophecies, planets, stars, careers, movies, plants, hate, love, and so much more.”
― Jonathan Anthony Burkett