Cherry Blossom season comes to Pelham Art Center on Saturday, April 21, 2012, 1:30- 3:30pm! Join us as we celebrate our first Cherry Blossom Festival (Sakura Matsuri) with FREE workshops and activities in the traditional arts of Japan.
From 1:30 to 2:30, performer Kaori Ibuki and her fellow dancers will demonstrate Japanese classical dance and lead the audience in fan movements (osensu) and kimono costuming.
Then from 2:30 to 3:30, artist Shoko Iwata and her colleagues will teach an introductory lesson in traditional Japanese flower arranging (ikebana) using real cherry blossoms. Participants will be able to take home their unique creations!
Throughout the afternoon, visitors can contribute to a community “wish tree,” by writing messages of hope on paper and tying it to the branches of a tree. PAC will then collect and mail the wishes to a central repository of wishes from around the world, becoming part of a greater project organized by Yoko Ono.
Also running throughout the event will be a video presentation of Japanese art and aesthetics, including a tea ceremony (chanoyu) and audio of traditional music. On loan from the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York especially for this event, the video “Passing Seasons” features live-action demonstrators and was filmed in the galleries of Japanese art at the Museum.
Visitors will also be able to enjoy the sight of a cherry blossom tree during the event, generously provided by Greener by Design. As part of Pelham Art Center’s Folk Art Series, the Cherry Blossom Festival is free and open to all ages.
About Cherry Blossom Season and Viewing (from Brooklyn Botanic Garden, Mizue Sawano: The Art of the Cherry Tree, 2006):
Japan does not have an official flower, but sakura, or the cherry blossom, is most certainly its unofficial one. Its delicate beauty has captivated the Japanese for centuries and has long been a primary motif in Japanese art for both its aesthetic quality and its symbolism. The blossom of the cherry tree signifies the arrival of spring and is celebrated as a herald of hope and a bright future. Its small, pale petals are also associated with purity. But the flower's delicate quality lends it a decidedly melancholy air, as well. After the cherry tree's buds open, it's just a few short days before the blooms have vanished entirely -- the lovely petals all shed in a spectacular pink flurry. The blossom's ephemeral beauty has come a poignant symbol of impermanence [in Japanese visual culture].
The Tradition of Hanami
In Japan, the seasonal blooming of cherry trees is a matter of enormous importance and is celebrated nationally in an event known as hanami (flower-viewing). Starting in late March, television weather reporters give the public daily blossom forecasts, tracking the "cherry blossom front" as it progresses from the south to the north. Families, coworkers, and groups of friends rely on these to quickly organize hanami parties as the cherry trees begin to bloom locally. Parks like Tokyo's famous Ueno Park become crowded with picnickers, and rowdy nighttime revels take on a festival atmostphere. The practice of hanami is centuries old; it began sometime in the Nara period, during the 8th century, when it referred to the viewing of the ume, or plum tree. But by the Helan period (8th to 12th centuries), hanami was synonymous with sakura. The blossoming of the cherries was used to predict the next year's harvest, and hanami was a time to perform rituals marking the start of the planting season. These rituals ended with a feast under the trees, much like the present day.