The Sun Shines on the 47th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival!
As sure as the summer sun shines and the flowers bloom after a good rain, June brings the celebration of Japanese and Japanese American culture and heritage at the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.
Sakura Square in downtown Denver transforms into a collection of marketplace vendors, scrumptious Japanese food and a live stage filled with vibrant entertainment. Co-presenters Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple and Sakura Foundation prepare for months to bring the area’s largest outdoor Japanese and Japanese American cultural festival to returning and first-time attendees.
The free festival which is open to the public truly has something for everyone: young families can teach children about a new culture….older kids can watch the judo, karate, aikido and dance performances... young adults can buy anime and t-shirts and chow down on sushi... adults can peruse the marketplace arts and crafts and delight in the delicious Japanese food... and seniors can be entertained by the dancing and singing of the cute children of the Temple!
The Japanese and Japanese American community in Denver is comprised of a variety of organizations, many of whom will have information booths at the festival. Among them is Denver Takayama Sister Cities Committee, which has participated in the festival since 2016. Chairperson Steve Comstock feels the Cherry Blossom Festival is a wonderful connection to the community. Having a presence at the festival “has been a perfect way to connect with people who are interested in Japan. Each of the past three years we have gained 70+ real connections to people who are interested in learning about our work, several of whom have become very active members of our committee. The Cherry Blossom Festival is the premier event for us to become known in the community.”
The Arts and Eats Underground area is a great place to cool off from the summer heat! There are two ways to access this not-so-hidden gem: 1) from Lawrence Street, enter the Temple gate, turn to the right and go down the steps and 2) enter the festival from the alley at 20th Street between Lawrence and Larimer Streets. There you will find yummy Japanese food and local artists chatting about their Japanese-inspired artwork on display. Meet Takayuki Kida, a woodworking craftsman born and trained in Japan who now lives in Boulder. Ask Kida-san about the traditional Japanese lacquering technique called urushi.
The delectable food that is available in the Temple gym, outside in the Temple marketplace booth and in the Arts and Eats Underground area is made with skill and care by volunteers from the Temple community. Treat yourself to teriyaki chicken, sushi, manju (a sweet dessert), spam musubi, teriyaki burgers with Karami sauce (Japanese salsa) and many more items which are sure to hit the spot.
Back by popular demand is the indoor kids’ area! Located in the building at 19th and Larimer Streets, the kids’ area provides an opportunity for kids and parents to relax and create a craft. Saturday morning attendees can enjoy a visit with representatives from the Denver Public Library who will have a variety of curated books, just for the festival!
Representatives from the Colorado Anime Fest will be in attendance. Come see your favorite anime characters, participate in a cosplay parade and see who will win our first-ever Cherry Blossom Cosplay Contest!
To learn all the details about the many marketplace vendors, live stage performances and the full menu of food for the 47th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival, go to www.cherryblossomdenver.org.