Cherry Blossom season in Philadelphia is how the city knows spring has sprung.
To mark the bloom of the blossoms and Japanese culture, the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival was celebrated over the course of a week and ended with the final event, Sakura Sunday. Sakura translates to Cherry Blossom in Japanese.
Little known to most Philadelphians, the trees were brought here in 1926 when Japan sent over 1,600 Sakura trees to Philadelphia as a token of friendship in celebration of the 150th anniversary of American independence.
Due to the harsh winter the city saw this year, the cherry blossoms never made it to the festival, but the festivities went on.
The Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival marks the 18th year that the festival has taken place. The week-long celebration included festivities throughout the city, such as trying on traditional Kimono’s in Liberty Place in Center City.
Through its 18 years, the festival has gained some loyal visitors who come back year after year to see new additions to Sakura Sunday, and take in the cherry blossoms while also learning a bit more about Japanese culture.
“I love Japanese culture and it’s always fun for me to have another opportunity to learn whatever I can really,” said Veronica Julian, a third time visitor. “The first time I came, it was this little tiny festival, and there were maybe a couple hundred people, maybe they reached a thousand, and just to see the crowds get bigger and bigger… it’s been monumental in the last few years.”
Sakura Sunday played host to 12,000 people, who got to enjoy the traditional food, Anime and cosplay events, as well as the performances by several dance groups and singers. Sakura Sunday took place at the Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park on April 12th, finishing up the week long celebration.
Events included a sushi contest, a pretty in pink contest for dogs to enter, calligraphy workshops, and tours of Shofuso house all day.
The pop culture corner, a karaoke station for popular Japanese hits, made it’s first appearance this year. Along with the pop culture corner, the Kodomo Corner, or kids corner, also made its debut.
Philadelphia celebrates the blossoms with festivals, but the tradition of watching cherry blossoms is called ‘ohanami’ in Japan, where families picnic under the trees relaxing.
Don’t miss the next Cherry Blossom Festival to be held at Morris Arboretum Saturday, April 18.