Ahhh...Sakura Season is Coming!

16.3.12 ShaSha LaPerf 7 Comments

That time of year!

I know it's a bit early to be thinking about cherry blossoms since they won't bloom until around the end of the month. But I just found out some news that has me pretty excited.

So the National Cherry Blossom Festival is coming up in DC, taking place from March 20 til April 27. Every year starting at the end of March, D.C. has the Cherry Blossom Festival to commemorate Japan's gift of sakura (a.k.a cherry blossom) trees to DC. The events include Japanese art exhibitions, a street fair, parade, and performances. I was very excited to hear that Japanese R&B artist MISIA will be performing this year at the opening ceremony on March 20! I've blogged about her a  bit before so I won't rehash much here. When I lived in Japan I got to see her perform (though very briefly) at a night club I was at, but I didn't even realize it was her till near the end. She was doing a house version of one her songs so I didn't recognize it. I'm planning on being there in the front row! I'm hoping she breaks out with this song:




But the real point of this blog post is a mix of a Nihon Flashback and a D.C. Flashback which revolve around my adventures during sakura blooming. I even dug up some pictures to post. LOL though there's a reason why I don't post my own pics on this site. I'm awful at taking pictures. Seriously when I was in Japan I used disposable cameras for a year and a half, LOL.

日本 Flashback: Hanami in Ueno Park
In Japan, the blooming of sakura (a.k.a. cherry blossoms) is a big deal. At this time you can find tons of sakura theme products from tea to sakura-related KitKats. I'm not kidding about the KitKats, like every years there's some variation of a sakura KitKat released:

This one's not mine. It's from kanshin.

It's also a time many J-artists will make songs--usually some sort of love song--that revolve around the time sakura or hanami. J-hip-pop group Ketsumeishi's song "Sakura" was crazy popular when I was in Japan:



Hanami refers to viewing the sakura trees in full bloom. The trees blossom all over the country starting in February depending on what part of the country you're in. But the beautiful pink petals only last for a few weeks. So people like to have a picnic out at a park surrounded by the trees to commemorate the moment. Ueno Park is a popular spot for people in the Tokyo area and if you're not their early it's REALLY hard to find a good spot.

My first year in Japan I did hanami alone.

I've heard that some companies even send out lowly employees to stay out overnight or get to the park in the morning to reserved a spot! During my second year in Japan, my friend Terri was living their as well and we decided to hit up Ueno Park for hanami. Well our hanami was more or less walking around the park admiring the trees...we knew we wouldn't be able to find a spot.


I really miss that jacket. :(

  

That's me on the right. The guy on the left is cosplaying as Hard Gay. Hard Gay was a comedian who was popular around 2006, mostly due to his outfit, signature pelvis thrusting, and the pose above. Here's a clip to get a better idea of Hard Gay's comedy style. LOL he was popular with kids which means I had students disrupting the class to yell out "FFFFFFFFFFFFUUUUUUUUU!" >_<

Sadly my third and final year and Japan and didn't get to do hanami because I was preparing to leave. I wish I'd found a little time to get out though. :(

D.C. Flashback: Hanami at the Tidal Basin
So 2009 was the first time I attended the DC Sakura festival. I honestly didn't know it existed until about a month or so before when the newspaper had an as about the events. It's actually a pretty big event in DC and brings out a lot of people, including the Asian men, LOL. I couldn't get to every event that year but I did make it to the Opening Ceremony where I got to see blasian enka singer Jero perform: LOL I did post a video on Youtube which is really bad, so here's a better version of his performance:




Man, I really need to write a blog post about this guy. Anyway, it was funny watching all the old Japanese women swoon over him while the rest of the audience was like, "WTF is this black dude doing up their singing enka!?" I'd learned about Jero right before I left Japan. Even though I'm not an enka fan, I enjoyed watching his performance.

I skipped over the events for two years because I was busy with school work. However last year, Shen and I decided to check out what was going on.We spent a bit of time walking around the Washington Monument, then had a mini picnic at the Jefferson monument at the Tidal Basin.


Thankfully there was good weather that day.

We didn't get to the opening ceremony, but did make it to the parade and festival. The parade was pretty wack and there was an accident which one of the cars in the parade caught on fire. The festival is just loaded with typical the common Japanese culture things we're used to seeing in the states like karaoke, Dance Dance Revolution, anime merchandise, and sushi.


Shen in line to get some eats. Food's a bit overpriced at the festival to me. :(

At the festival we got to see an j-indie group named Spirit + Noise perform. You can check out what there music sounds like on YouTube.

For some reason it didn't occur to me to put my camera in video mode to get them performing. :(

This year Shen and I are planning to get to the opening ceremony (LOL for MISIA of course!) and will probably have another picnic/monuments walking day. I'm going to make a follow up to this post and plan to actually take decent pictures this time around!

7 comments:

  1. I've heard about the festival in DC, and I've always wished that I could attend. I wished that there was something like there here in Michigan, but from what I'm aware of I don't think there is...however, I do remember my Japanese teacher once mentioning some type of festival, but I doubt it was anything in relation to the Sakura season. But I could be wrong, my memory for small things is kind of bad ^^;

    I've heard of Jero before and I must say that he is talented, but I'm not really into enka either, so I don't listen much to his music.

    I hope you have fun when you attend this year!

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  2. For years, I've heard about the Cherry Blossom festivals in Georgia,but I haven't been to not one of them,not because I don't want to go. Our festival is always held in Macon, Georgia.. two hours from Atlanta and most of my people aren't interested in going.The one in DC seems like it is more fun. Maybe one day if I visit my uncle( he lives in the DC area) around the day that festival is held on, I will check it out.

    Believe it or not, I didn't realize what Enka music was until you mentioned Jero and I'm like " You tell me that I've been listening to it for years and didn't know what I was listening to?" I like Enka music and have been listening to it for 19 years.

    I've heard that Jero is the man when it comes to Enka music and I see why. It doesn't matter how much Japanese he sings in his music, dude has a sexiness in his voice. He kind of reminds me of Larry Graham. I like oldies and that song Jero sung has a nostalgic tone in it. Whoever sees Jero will definitely in for a great treat.

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    1. I'm impressed that you've been listening to enka for so long! I didn't know much about enka because I didn't like the singing style I'd heard about it, but I think a younger generation of enka singers like Kiyoshi Hikawa tried to make it more pop. I've seen his performances and I like the theatrics of it. Jero just came out of nowhere and is still really popular over there.

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    2. Thank you and thanks to my dad( who was into Asian culture), that is why I like listening to it.My folks listened to every type of music, including international music.

      As I've mentioned, I had no idea what Enka Music was until Jero sung it. I just always referred to it as " Japanese music". I just love the way Jero sing it. He is just so cool and romantic in singing it. I've already put him in my library of music. I'm also going to check Kiyoshi out.

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  3. Philadelphia has a Sakura Festival that is well attended but a bit wack. My ex and I used to go and keep a running tab of all of the asian women there with their white boyfriends. We would be at 20+ before even getting through the front gates, lol.

    It's a general audience family-friendly event here. The cosplay kids put on a little show, and there is taiko drumming which I LOVE! The men look super sexy while they play, and I love to feel the vibrations in my body.

    Hopefully the weather will cooperate and we'll have a good festival this year.

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    1. Yeah I'm a fan of taiko drumming too. They usually have a good group performing in DC. I missed it late year though. :(

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  4. I can't wait to go to the sakura festival in april, here in philadelphia! I'm pretty much going to check out the japanese guys(maybe get them with the all mighty power of boobage?) They charge for everything even if all of it isnt much I'm stil like...damn you japanese society of greater philadelphia, but its pretty much worth it.

    I've heard of jero way before I went to japan in 2010 through a kinki kids show called something koudai and pretty much didnt like it; was sort of like country music on crack for me but you cant love all music.

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