This year marks the 20th anniversary of the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival. What began in 1997 as a tree planting effort in Fairmount Park and along the Schuylkill River has grown into a nine day celebration of all things Japanese. This annual festival will be filled with many events and activities that highlight the cherry blossoms and Japanese culture including Japan’s traditional ohanami: parties beneath the blossoming trees with food, drink, and entertainment.
This year’s festival begins on Saturday April 1, 2017 and ends on Sunday April 9, 2017 and features fun, family friendly events from Center City, Old City, and Fairmount Park to the Main Line. Visitors can see superior international performances, try time-honored traditions including sushi making and creating origami, and can enjoy the lively pop cultures of anime and cosplay. The festival is just the beginning of a year full of Japanese arts, culture, and business programming.
The Festival kicks off on Saturday, April 1, 2017 with the reopening of Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park, which will be open every day during the Festival. In Center City, the Liberty Place Rotunda features Japanese Culture Week demonstrations every day at noon. From April 3 – 7, come to the Rotunda for daily events including origami and ikebana flower arranging, a nihon buyo dance demonstration, kimono dressing, kamishibai storytelling, and an opportunity to play the Japanese games shogi and go.
On Saturday, April 8 from 6 – 8 p.m., the Festival hosts Sakura Under the Stars, an exclusive cocktail party. Enjoy sushi, Japanese inspired cuisine, and drinks at Union Trust, located at 717 Chestnut Street in Philadelphia. Tickets are available for $100 for JASGP members and $120 for non-members at http://subarucherryblossom.org/events/stars/.
Other events to look forward include the Cherry Blossom 10K/5K on Saturday April 8, which offers runners and walkers great views of Shofuso and other Fairmount Park landmarks, and sushi making classes and an amateur sushi making contest led by Madame Saito, Philadelphia’s Queen of Sushi. Enjoy a gourmet kaiseki dinner at Margaret Kuo’s Wayne, or take in a screening of the acclaimed animated film 5 Centimeters per Second at the University of Pennsylvania. A complete listing of events is available online at http://subarucherryblossom.org/events/ or call (267) 348-0250. (See addendum with list of events.)
The final event of the festival, Sakura Sunday, transforms Fairmount Park into a premier Japanese cultural experience. It takes place on Sunday, April 9 at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center. This day-long outdoor celebration of all things Japanese features food, live music and dance performances, athletics, crafts, the Little Akiba anime and pop culture area, and activities for all ages. For more information, visit www.subarucherryblossom.org/sakurasunday.
The Cherry Blossom Festival takes its name and central inspiration from the fleeting beauty of the sakura, the Japanese name for cherry blossoms . The first blossoming cherry trees in Fairmount Park were planted in 1926, a gift to the City of Philadelphia by the people of Japan. Cherry blossoms are gorgeous flowers, a must see natural wonder calling everyone outdoors to welcome spring and an annual inspiration to artists and photographers. The events of the Festival celebrate Philadelphia’s rich cultural connections with the art, music, food, natural beauty, and industry of Japan.
The Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia is a project of the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia (JASGP) with tremendous support from Subaru of America, Inc as its title sponsor. The project aims to foster a better understanding of the cultural, social, and educational customs of Japan building on JASGP’s commitment to plant and maintain cherry trees in local parks. To date, JASGP has planted more than 1,000 cherry trees, supplementing the 1,600 flowering trees presented by the Japanese government as a gesture of friendship in 1926. Digital photos and additional information on cherry trees, cherry blossom traditions in Japan, and the work of the JASGP are available at www.subarucherryblossom.org. Follow @phillysakura on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.