Seattle Center Festál continues with the Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival Friday, April 8 – Sunday, April 10, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Following last year’s virtual festival, this year features a lineup of both in-person events and a virtual program.
In-person events will take place in the Armory Food & Event Hall and Fisher Pavilion at Seattle Center. The free public festival includes sake tastings, a calligraphy exhibit and a tea ceremony with the theme Soul of Artisans. Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell is an honorary co-chair of the festival.
“Cherry blossoms remind us of renewal of spring and life,” said festival producer Tazue Sasaki. “We would like to invite not only our community but everyone to enjoy this renewal together through our festival offerings, after two years of isolation.”
While the theme of the festival focuses on artisans, social justice is also at the forefront of the Cherry Blossom Festival. For festival organizers, promotion of Japanese culture awareness is vital in uncertain times of racial disparity. A goal of the festival is to earn true understanding and empathy from the general public for Japanese culture, arts, and people by presenting the event’s programs.
First-time Cherry Blossom food court partners include Teinei Restaurant with bento and Modern, a Japanese café specializing in sushi and pastries, with inari. In addition, the festival welcomes back Phinney Ridge’s Tokara Japanese Confectionary known for its artistically sweet creations. Setsuko Pastry will also have packaged mochi and cookies available.
“The Cherry Blossom Festival is three days dedicated to celebrating the Japanese culture here in Seattle,” said Seattle Mayor Bruce Harrell. “This is a special time to embrace the strong connections between our City and Japanese communities, coming together as One Seattle. I’m especially excited given my own proud Japanese heritage — it is an honor to celebrate this community through such robust programming.”
The festival’s activities include sake tasting presented by Hyogo Business and Cultural Center, outdoor martial arts, a calligraphy exhibit, a tea ceremony, film screenings, history panels, performing arts including koto music, and a cherry blossom gift shop.
“Festál is a year-long chance for the Seattle area to come together and celebrate its diverse community,” said Seattle Center Director Robert Nellams. “Cherry Blossom Festival is one part of the Festál series that highlights the cultural components that make Seattle the unique city it is.”
In tandem with the live festival, the Cherry Blossom Festival will offer virtual programming on their website as well.
The Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival was initiated on May 8, 1976, when Japan’s former Prime Minister, Takeo Miki, gifted 1,000 cherry trees to Seattle in commemoration of America’s bicentennial and the long friendship between the people of Japan and Washington state. Information on the festival is available at cherryblossomfest.org and www.seattlecenter.com, as well as on Facebook and YouTube.