Every year, Subaru sponsors a cherry-blossom festival in Philadelphia. Jenny invited me to join her and her brother, sister-in-law, and two nephews in enjoying Sakura Sunday, in Fairmount Park. Since I am trying to learn Japanese, it seemed like an excellent idea, and fortuitously it was a beautiful day and the beginning of Spring Break, so I felt no pressure and had no agenda. Whee!
Jenny and I stopped at the H-mart to pick up some sesame- and nut-free snacks (one of her nephews has allergies) and some green tea, and parked a pleasant walk away from the festivities. We found a place to park our picnic supplies, and had time to enjoy some drumming by the Swarthmore College taiko drummers and some dancers doing traditional dances before taking the tour of the Japanese House, Shofuso.
It is especially nice to see these things with Jenny, who has lived in Japan and knows Japanese and about the culture. She was able to explain that the artist who painted the sliding screen-walls of Shofuso, Hiroshi Senju, lives part time in New York and part time in Tokyo and painted the screens with a sort of spraypainting technique. Also, the pond in the garden is in the shape of the kanji for “heart” (you can’t tell that from my photos, though—see my flickr set) and the roof is thatched in an old technique that is dying out even in Japan.
After lunch, I wandered around the festival and caught a glimpse of the Cherry Blossom Queen (Erisa Kazui, in the US to visit Philadelphia’s and Washington DC’s cherry blossom festivals). I entered a drawing to win a trip to Japan (I won a t-shirt, which I have not received yet), looked over the go games, the carp windsock making table (nobody over the age of 8 seemed to be participating, so I just watched), and the origami tables. In addition, I found out that the “Dr. Robot” sumo robot wrestling people do children’s parties and school visits, and took some pictures of the calligraphy. I also bought some kimono fabric: two swatches of silk and one of cotton.
Sakura Sunday was an ideal way to kick off my break, which started out fairly productively (I sewed, I accomplished some schoolwork and some housework, I bought a Japanese textbook (again with help from Jenny, THANK YOU!), but which has since tapered off into procrastination. Ah well, I will remember the fun I had as I sit at my desk trying to finish up the grading I left for the last day of vacation.