The first official Buffalo Cherry Blossom Festival at the Japanese Garden in Buffalo will run from will run from April 23- May 4.
It’s going to be a 12-day event that includes a tea ceremony, speakers, a book signing, a Cherry Blossom Ball, Japanese and Burmese dance performances, a celebrity chef food and sake tasting, an orienteering event, a cherry tree planting, a creative pink and white parade and, of course, cherry blossoms.
Cherry blossoms (or “sakura” in Japanese) are celebrated for their ephemeral beauty, according to the event organizers. Due to the brief life of the blossoms, one must put aside all other plans and make the viewing of the blossoms a priority. This reminds us to value our own short life.
In Japan it is common to participate in a “hanami” or a flower viewing by sitting under the cherry blossoms with friends to appreciate nature. In that spirit, a small cherry blossom viewing picnic was held last year with the intention to grow it into this larger Cherry Blossom Festival.
The events will be held in and around the Japanese Garden located in Delaware Park behind the Buffalo History Museum, Elmwood Avenue and Nottingham Terrace, Buffalo.
The festival begins at 6:30 p.m. Wednesday, April 23 with a tea ceremony in the History Museum by Atsuko Nishida-Mitchell, Buffalo’s own tea ceremony teacher, in the auditorium of the Buffalo History Museum. Japanese tea ceremony requires many years of study and is an opportunity to experience a special part of the culture of Japan. The tea ceremony host prepares a bowl of tea with choreographed aesthetics and her guest in mind. English interpretation of the ceremony will be provided.
Other highlights of the festival include:
- Ann McClellan, former Smithsonian executive and author of the book The Cherry Blossom Festival will give a presentation and hold a book signing at noon Saturday, April 26 at the Buffalo History Museum.
- The Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy will present the recently released WNED film “Olmsted’s Enduring Legacy” at 10 a.m. Sunday, April 27 at the Parkside Lodge, 84 Parkside Ave., Buffalo. After the film viewing, Brian Dold of the Buffalo Olmsted Parks Conservancy will give a presentation on the Japanese Garden of Buffalo including its history, design concepts and current plantings. Following the presentation, participants will drive to the Japanese Garden for tours departing at 11:30 a.m. and noon. These tours will highlight the cherry trees and the garden’s design. These special tours are organized through the parks conservancy and the Friends of the Japanese Garden and are unique to the festival.
- A celebrity chef food and sake tasting event will be held at at 5:30 p.m. Monday, April 28 at Campus House on the SUNY Buffalo State campus. Mike Andrzejewski, chef and restaurant owner, will present his interpretations of Japanese cuisine. Rob Kohout of Empire Merchants North Fine Wine and Spirits will lead tastings and a discussion about the rice wines of Japan. Tickets can be purchased online.
- Have a picnic in the Japanese Garden anytime from Tuesday, April 29 to Friday, May 2. Groups practicing yoga, taichi or meditation groups are invited to hold a session in this peaceful setting.
- See free film screenings on Saturday, May 3 at the Buffalo History Museum. The 10 a.m. film will be Dream Window: Reflection on the Japanese Garden, a stroll through the most aesthetically beautiful gardens in the world. The noon film will be Cherry Blossoms, a 2008 German film with subtitles. An elderly husband suffering from a terminal illness appreciates his wife in a new way after she dies during a trip to visit family in Berlin. This film is a mature film with themes of grief, loss and humor.
- The festival wraps up on Sunday, May 4. Navigate your way around Delaware Park with the Cherry Blossom Challenge Orienteering Event that starts at 11 a.m. in front of the History Museum. Cherry Blossom Family Day at the History Museum includes Japanese and Burmese dancers at 1:30 and 2:30 p.m. respectively, a family friendly tea ceremony in the orchard, origami, a cherry tree planting & a creative pink and white parade beginning at 3 p.m. in the parking lot of the Buffalo History Museum.