Stockton News

Stockton students visit Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival

Written for The Argo by Zuleika Rodriguez Garcia

Scenery from the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival. Photo courtesy of Zuleika Rodriguez Garcia.

On Sunday, April 16, the Asian American Pacific Islander Heritage Committee sponsored a trip for Stockton students to visit the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia at West Fairmount Park. There is programming throughout the month of April, but this year the weekend of April 15-16 was referred to as Sakura weekend and featured a number of events and performances. 

The festival is an annual occurrence and free to enter, but donations are accepted and donors have the opportunity to win prizes. The event is a “celebration of Japanese arts and culture,” according to the official program. The honoring “brings a taste of Japan to Philadelphia and highlights the beauty of Japanese sakura—the flowering cherry trees that brighten Philly’s parks and streets.” Some of the events that take place across the month of April include tea ceremonies, sushi-making classes and contests, 5k and 10k runs, as well as a variety of workshops and other gatherings all revolving around different aspects of Japanese culture. 

Visitors admire the trees on display. Photo courtesy of Zuleika Rodriguez Garcia.

Visitors of Sakura weekend were greeted with performances by the Tanagawa Taiko and Dance Troupe— one of the best taiko troupes in Japan— Acaraje Drums, 10tecomai Yosakoi with Rino Aise, and Yoko Nakahashi. Inside the Horticulture Center, visitors could once again witness tea ceremony demonstrations, as well as ikebana demonstrations, kimono and yukata dressings, and origami workshops. The rest of the park was lined by a vendor fair where guests could purchase Japanese cultural items, food, jewelry, and other artisanal crafts. The event also featured a pop-up beer garden for adults and a scavenger hunt for children. They did not forget visitors’ pet companions, as they featured a ‘Prettiest Pet in Pink’ contest. 

The festival also included a separate attraction, which visitors must pay for and tickets sell out far in advance. The Shofuso Japanese House and Garden was granted on a commission by the Museum of Modern Art to the United States as a gift from Japan. It opened in 1954 and features a variety of objects and artworks representing Japanese culture.

Paper lanterns on display. Photo courtesy of Zuleika Rodriguez Garcia.

Some features included a shoe rack, as all visitors must enter the home in socks to protect the historic homes’ floors, a main room in 17th-century shoin-zukuri style, and a veranda platform looking out into the garden. There were three gardens; a courtyard, a hill, and a pond garden. The home also included a tea house, several stone structures, a statue of a Buddhist deity, and a pebble beach recently installed in 2020. 

To learn more about the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia, please visit: