After dreaming a few months ago about visiting one of Japan’s Cherry Blossom Festivals, I made sure to schedule a visit to Philadelphia’s own version of the international event. Sakura Sunday is the closeout to a week of sakura, or cherry blossom, related events that take place around the city as part of the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival. The Cherry Blossom event on Sunday takes place in a small section of Fairmount Park that includes the Shofuso Japanese House & Garden. The schedule includes traditional drumming, dancing, Harajuku fashions and more.
If nothing else, it was a beautiful day and a wonderful excuse to enjoy the weather. Unfortunately, Mother Nature didn’t comply fully. There were only a few cherry trees with their blossoms out. One tree in particular near the Shofuso Japanese House & Garden was in full splendor, full of beautiful pink buds. The rest of the trees were still a bit cautious, let’s say, from this past winter. The event itself was very crowded. Teenagers and young people done up in costumes were everywhere. Entertainment was provided by, among others, Tamagawa Univerity’s Taiko Drum & Dance group. In one corner, near a statue of Goethe, out of tune karaoke singing floated out. Not to mention that it’s a dog-friendly event and many, ourselves included, took advantage of including the four-legged friends in the festivities.
What was disappointing, however, was that the event wasn’t as Japanese as I’d expected or hoped. The food stands had signs that screamed out “funnel cake,” “crab cake sandwiches,” and, of all things, “empanadas” in large, capital red letters. There was some Japanese food but it was minimal. Even the stands selling things were rather limited. There wasn’t all that much to do. Or see. For an entrance fee of $10 per person, my expectations had been higher. That said, I’m definitely making a trip back to Shofuso on another day when the four-legged friend is at home.