The Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Festival

The Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia held their annual Cherry Blossom Festival on April 15-16.

Hundreds of people attended the Cherry Blossom Festival in West Fairmount Park. | ROBERT JOSEPH CRUZ / THE TEMPLE NEWS

With all of the flowers and trees finally blooming, attendees were wowed by the cultural offerings present at the annual Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Festival. 

On April 15-16, people came and celebrated Japanese music, dance, food, clothing, art and literature, among other activities. The festival was held in West Fairmount Park, and was filled with overarching cherry blossoms overlooking the Center City skyline. Visitors enjoyed shopping from different vendors or watching music and dance performances, while some sat on blankets under trees enjoying the warm weather. 

The Cherry Blossom Festival started sharing Japanese culture in 1998 by bringing together people from around the greater Philadelphia area and celebrating the cherry blossom trees, which were gifted by the Japanese government in 1926.

For visitors like sewing instructor Tristan Mancini, experiencing these parts of different cultures is important.

“If the opportunity is there, I think you should absolutely take it,” Scharroo said. “Because if you’re just kind of inside your own culture you don’t know anything else about the world and other people.”

For Mancini, it was the perfect environment for families to get out and enjoy the weather.

“It’s chill, but it’s also kind of lively,” Mancini said. “There’s lots of families here which is always really nice, it’s very family friendly.”

Elle Evans felt the event was great for getting people of different backgrounds out of their comfort zone and experiencing cultures they may otherwise feel uncomfortable with, she said.

“I think it’s extremely rare to see this many people outside of the Asian demographic coming, not just to listen to the music or look at flowers or eat the food, but they’re going to these performances, they’re going to these lessons, and it’s really cool,” said Evans, an Allentown, Pennsylvania, resident. “I think it’s really unique and it’s nice to see people kind of step out of their comfort zone.”

Madame Saito, the creator of the Philadelphia Sushi Roll, and former Temple sushi instructor, held a sushi-making competition where students from her own school competed to make the most creative presentation of sushi, with the winner being chosen by the crowd.

Creating awareness about Japanese culture is what makes the festival a real success, said Madame Saito.
I think let people know more about cherry blossoms, about the food, and about the culture,” Saito said. “Did you see all the drummers, the dancers? It’s very special.”

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