The Cherry Blossom Festival Special Issue /
An Overview of the 48th Annual Seattle Cherry Blossom Festival
By David Yamaguchi
The North American Post
Cherry blossom paintings Kōkichi Tsunoi gave to the Library of Congress in 1921. They depict the varieties Japan gave the US in 1912, which were planted along the Washington, D.C. waterfront. Floral images: Library of Congress.
Japanese cherry blossoms have been written about since at least the eighth century. Accordingly, here I let them speak for themselves in the artwork above. It is arranged in the eighth-century Iroha order, which sets the Japanese syllabary in the form of a poem that compares life’s brevity with that of flowers.
“Iro wa nioedo
chiri nuru o…”
Even the blossoming flowers
Will eventually scatter…
Text by Tazue Sasaki
Photos by Arisa Nakamura For The North American Post
Featuring Honorary Co-Chairs, Consul-General Hisao Inagaki and Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell
Friday, April 14, 5 PM
Fisher Pavilion, Seattle Center
The festival will be hybrid, featuring live broadcasts, at cherryblossomfest.org.
SATURDAY will include a talk by Justin Takeuchi about his visit to Fukushima; a Washington State Japanese Speech and Skit Award Ceremony; a flower-arranging demonstration by Ikebana International, Chapter 19; a tea ceremony by Chanoyu Omotesenke at the Tea House; koto music by Miyagi Kai; a Karakuri Doll (traditional Japanese mechanized dolls)demonstration; and a panel discussion by the Japanese American Citizens League (JACL), Seattle Chapter.
SUNDAYwill include a second flower-arranging demonstration by Ikebana International. It will be followed by a tea ceremony by Tankokai Urasenke at the Tea House, a motivational talk by Shinji Maeda, “One Eye Pilot’s World Challenge,” Kamishibai Storytelling (pre-TV street theater) by Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington (JCCCW), and a calligraphy demonstration by Beikoku Shodo Kenkyu Kai.
A brief closing ceremony will follow.
The activities on the various stages are outlined in more detail below.
FRIDAY, NHK World-Japan Videos On Demand will be shown on the Armory Stage LED Screen.
SATURDAY continues with some early screening of NHK World VOD, together with performances and demonstrations by local community cultural groups: Cherry Blossom Singers, Fujima Ensemble, Okinawa Kenjinkai Taiko with guest Chinagu Eisa Hawaii — 27 members strong — and new a group, Rain City Sumo.
SUNDAY will feature performances by The School of Taiko, “Japan in The Schools” by Japan America Society of the State of Washington (JASSW), UV Dance Squad (“Usui-Villarreal”), Seattle Matsuri Taiko, Seattle Seido Karate, PNW Kendo Federation and Seattle Kokon Taiko.
Throughout the festival, the Loft will feature the beauty of ikebana floral arrangements by Ikebana International, and the calligraphic brushstrokes of Beikoku Shodo Kenkyu Kai (celebrating its 45th anniversary) and Meito Japanese Calligraphy Association. Also, Seattle Go Association members will teach the game of Go. The Film and Lecture Room, on the east side of the Loft, will show films by Jeff Chiba Stearns, Holly Yasui and others.
FRIDAY (mainly for schools) will showcase the Karakuri Ningyo demonstrations and Kamishibai Storytelling by the JCCCW.
FISHER OUTDOOR STAGE. The SATURDAYlineup will include demonstrations by Shintokan Dojo of classic bujutsu (all Japanese martial arts), followed by a taiko performance by Inochi Taiko. Seattle Dojo also returns to the festival with judo. The back-to-back sounds of rock/metal by Moopsie and pink punk by Ichi Bichi will end the outdoor program.
FISHER INDOOR STAGE. Tanimoto Karakuri Ningyo will be featured all three days. Here, guest craftsman Shigeo Tanimoto and his assistant Kimiko Hirahata from Wakayama Prefecture, Japan, will demonstrate the art of making the wooden dolls move. Mr. Tanimoto, a woodworker, has added his own techniques to the historical style of making the dolls.
Chahakobi is a tea serving girl who carries a cup, stops then waits until the cup is lifted. When the cup is replaced, she turns around and returns to her station.
Yumihiki is a bow-drawing archer who has more difficult moves; he sets an arrow, draws the bow, then shoots at a target, three to four times.
Presenter exhibits and hands-on demonstrations at Fisher Pavilion will include:
Chiyogami Ningyo (paper dolls) by Kuniko Mancini, and Zokei Bonsai (artificial bonsai) by Setsuko Evans.
A Regional Japan Expo, represented by prefectural groups from Japan and local ones, will include:
• Hyogo Business and Cultural Center sake tasting and tourism information, celebrating the Hyogo/Washington Sister-State 60th anniversary. The sake-tasting will allow those 22 and above three samplings of quality sake.
• Seattle-Kobe Sister City Association kimono dress-up.
• Japan Business Association of Seattle will host LEGEND, an exhibit series of Japanese founders of American companies
• Saitama Prefecture – KomyMirror and Hashigakkai Chopstick Association
• Seattle Fukushima Club – visits to Fukushima with Panos Kumasaka (virtual display in booth) and Justin Takeuchi (speech)
• Seattle Hiroshima Club – tourism information
• Seattle Kishu Club (Wakayama Prefectural Association) – Karakuri Ningyo co-sponsor
• Seattle-Tacoma Fukuoka Kenjinkai – tourism
Public outreach by local organizations or individuals will include booths by
the JACL Seattle Chapter, presenting its 100th anniversary exhibit and a panel discussion; JCCCW describing its Japanese Language programs and Northwest Nikkei Museum; the Japan-America Society of the State of Washington, celebrating its 100th anniversary; and Monica of the Podcast “Beyond Generations.” The Seattle Mariners will also be present on Saturday (one day only).
The Children’s Corner will include: chopstick challenge, making and flying kites, and all levels of origami.
Best of all, there will be a Cherry Blossom Food Court, where ramen by Teinei Restaurant will be making its first appearance.
Other food items will include pastries, mochi and inari (fried tofu-wrapped sushi) by Setsuko Pastry and elegant wagashi (traditional sweets) by Tokara Confectionery.
SEATTLE OPERA CENTER LOBBY
The Japan Foundation Traveling Exhibit, “Manga Hokusai Manga: Approaching the Master’s Compendium from the Perspective of Contemporary Comics,” will be on display April 14-16, 17-28, and 30, 11 AM to 4 PM, at the Seattle Opera Center, 363 Mercer Street. Free admission. The exhibit is courtesy of the Consulate-General of Japan in Seattle.
For those who are unable to attend the festival in-person, please join it online at cherryblossomfest.org, where live performances will be highlighted. There will also be virtual classes and video shorts from participating organizations. The former include furoshiki (traditional carrying-cloth wrapping) by Lynn Miyauchi and tea ceremony by Masaye Okano Nakagawa.
Tazue Sasaki has been involved in the Seattle Cherry Blossom Festival since its start in 1976. Beyond festival organizing, she teaches traditional Japanese dance in her home.
Arisa Nakamura does Graphic Design, Marketing & Communications for the Japanese Cultural & Community Center of Washington (jcccw.org). At night she transforms into Yoko of “Shin-Issei Journey”