Tuesday, April 20, 2010

2010 Seattle Cherry Blossom Festival

Sunday April 18th, I attended the Seattle Cherry Blossom Festival with my sister and her family. We were lucky since Sunday was soo beautiful, and was the only day that weekend that it did not rain. I dressed my sister Nicole and niece Dakota up in yukata! Please enjoy all the pictures, the girls looked very pretty! I didn't dress up since I'm big pregnant. While I actually do have a maternity yukata, I don't have a heko-obi (a soft version of the wide sash that ties around the belly).

Just like last year, we started the day off by getting some lattes. Since the girls were dressed up, we got a fun reaction when we walked into Cutter's Point coffee shop. Everyone turned around and stared and the man at the counter said "you all must be here for the sushi!"

I wanted to get a good picture of Nicole, Scotty, and Dakota together - a family portrait. As we were walking to the festival from the parking garage, I got this cute pic of the three walking hand-in-hand.

The Cherry Blossom Festival is held every year at Seattle Center because it is the home to thousands of cherry trees donated to the city of Seattle from Japan. As we walked to the festival, we could see the Space Needle framed in the branches of the cherry trees. Last year all the cherry blossoms had already fallen off of the trees, so we were lucky to be able to view the blossoms this year.

We started the day off at the Center House where the main stage was holding performances. It is also where the food court is, so we got a bite to eat first! We weren't aware that they were selling Japanese food in the Fisher Pavilion, so we missed out on that... Instead we had some burgers and burritos while taiko drums played on the stage.

Again this year they had the booth that dresses people in yukata so that people can take pictures of themselves looking Japanese-y. Never a fan of this booth, they do a terrible job. The umbrella the girl is holding actually has a very large hole in it. Surprisingly there were very few people dressed up in yukata. Actually, there were few people at all at the festival, compared to past years. I only saw two other people walking around dressed up: a toddler and one young lady. Nicole and Dakota had been approached many times by people asking about their outfits and where they could get one!

After eating, we went to the Fisher Pavilion, where most of the cultural displays were at. We first admired the many Ikebana flower arrangements.

This one was my favorite, since the cherry blossom arrangement fit very nicely with the theme of the festival.

Some shodo calligraphy.

These are Mizuhiki Zaiku by artist Haruko Shimizu. Mizuhiki is stiff string made of hemp, and is used by samurai, geisha, brides, etc to tie their hair in top-knots, and also tied in pretty knots to adorn cards and presents. These are massive art pieces made from tying the mizuhiki string into complicated decorations, like the samurai helmet.

These are Zokei Bonsai make by Setsuko Evans. I took lessons from Setsuko Evans and have made a few of these trees myself! Zokei bonsai are fake trees, made with wire, rice paper, and silk. They give a realistic beauty, without the fear of killing a bonsai tree!

A beautiful set of armor. At this display was a nice katana as well, and a set-up to demonstrate blade sharpening.

Some kimono were on display. Uchikake wedding kimono hanging up, and some dress-forms wearing kimono. There were dressing demonstrations held to show the complicated skill of putting kimono on.

There were booths set up for children (or adults acting like kids) to try their hand at games and skills, such as origami or Japanese calligraphy. We waited for a long time to try calligraphy, but people are rude and they kept cutting in front of us. We played with a traditional toy, called kendama. It is a stick with cups on the ends in which you try to catch a ball and string in the cups. I took a video of the girls playing with the kendama. Dakota catches the ball at the beginning of the video, and Nicole near the end.
video

After seeing all the displays in the Fisher Pavilion, we went outside and enjoyed the beautiful International Fountain. This is one of the coolest fountains I've seen, set at the bottom of a giant bowl with powerful water jets and even fog effects.

Kids and adults loved getting soaked on such a beautiful day, or playing games of running from the random jets of water. You can hear Scotty at the end of the video, "haha! Suckers!"
video

Before the day was done, we definitely wanted to get some good pictures of the girls in their outfits under the cherry trees.
Dakota's fan says "festival".

I got this candid shot of Nicole as she was setting down her bag on a rock to get her picture taken. It is one of my favorite shots because of how natural it is.

Lovely photo of Nicole, taken by Scotty. The fallen petals on the ground create a lovely scene.

My favorite, a natural, candid shot of Dakota.

Beneath the trees are many plaques and engraved stones with special messages or meaningful quotes.

And the paving stones for the sidewalk under the cherry trees are made of tiles commemorating donations, memories of people who have passed, or drawing made by children. I spotted one that says "konnichi wa", hello or good afternoon in Japanese.

And finally I wanted to catch a video of the girls simply walking around in their yukata.
video

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