Sunday, March 15, 2015

It's hanami time! Sister City 2nd annual Cherry Blossom Festival in Central Park

The first annual Cherry Blossom Festival in 2014 was perfectly timed with the blossoming of cherry trees from Huntington Beach's Sister City of Anjo, Japan. (Photograph courtesy of Gregory Robertson) © All rights reserved.

without regret
they fall and scatter
cherry blossoms
~Issa, a haiku written in 1821
   It's time for the Cherry Blossom Festival!  Join the Huntington Beach Sister City Association Sunday, March 22, for the second annual Cherry Blossom Festival, 10:30 a.m. to 4 p.m., in Central Park at the grandstand area behind the Huntington Beach Central Library.

Left: Monument stone in Central Park recognizing the gift of cherry trees from Sister City Anjo, Japan.

 A tradition adopted from Huntington Beach's Sister City of Anjo, Japan---who presented the cherry trees as a gift to the City---the tradition of "flower viewing" is called hanami.  

Most often, hanami festivals and picnics are centered around the sakura, or cherry blossoms.  The hanami is a tradition known to have occurred at least as early as the 3rd Century A.D.  It is deeply embedded in Japanese culture, a time for friends and family to gather outdoors, welcome spring, and socialize.

   The U.S. National Cherry Blossom Festival began March 27, 1912, with the planting of cherry trees by First Lady Helen Taft and Viscountess Chinda, wife of the Japanese ambassador.  Japan presented as a gift of friendship more than 3,000 trees, come of which were planted on the grounds of the White House.  

   As more trees were planted in the Potomac Park, the annual spring blossoming evolved into the first National Cherry Blossom Festival in 1935, which has since become a beloved tradition in Washington, D.C.  

Right: A stone lantern and stones presented to the City of Huntington Beach by Anjo, Japan, circa 1982. (Photograph by M.Urashima, February 2015) © All rights reserved.

   The National Cherry Blossom Festival is opened by the lighting of a 300-year-old Japanese Stone Lantern that was a gift from Japan in 1954, recognizing the 100th anniversary of the first Treaty of Peace, Amity and Commerce between the United States and Japan on March 31, 1854.

Right: Cherry trees blossoming in Huntington Beach Central Park. (Photograph by M. Urashima, March 9, 2015) © All rights reserved.

   Forecasting the dates on which cherry trees will be in full bloom is high science in Japan.  The Japan Meteorological Agency track the cherry blossom "front" as it moves from southern to northern Japan, which is then reported by every news outlet.  

   We can report the cherry trees in Huntington Beach Central Park are now in bloom, perfectly timed with the Sister City Association's hanami so that locals and visitors can experience the "pink clouds."

Left: Taiko drummers performing at the 2014 Cherry Blossom Festival in Huntington Beach Central Park. (Photograph by M. Urashima, March 29, 2014) © All rights reserved.  

   The Huntington Beach Cherry Blossom Festival features live dance and theater performances, music, local organizations relating to both Japanese and Japanese American culture and history.  

   The festival also features a variety of savories and sweets to try.  In keeping with a humorous Japanese proverb, "dumplings before flowers," check out some delicious Japanese cuisine and cool off with shave ice, a local favorite.

   Cherry blossoms have various symbolic meanings in Japanese culture, but often are seen as a metaphor for the fragility and transience of life.  A beautiful reminder to take time to view the cherry blossoms!

© All rights reserved.  No part of the Historic Huntington Beach blog may be reproduced or duplicated without prior written permission from the author and publisher, M. Adams Urashima.

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