Colorful aspects of Japanese culture were on full display in early May during the Sakura Matsuri Festival at the Charles B. Wang Center.
Sakura Matsuri — the Cherry Blossom Festival — is a day-long celebration of Japanese traditions and culture. Numerous student organizations, clubs and local businesses participated.
Festivities started at noon with a powerful taiko drums performance from the SBU Taiko Tides, a traditional Japanese drumming group.
“We’ve been here for five years,” said drummer Jennifer Jai ’20. “Taiko Tides has always opened the Sakura Matsuri Festival. They always assume we’re going to perform. And we do, even in this rain.”
At this year’s main event, the “GA-RYU” taiko group, on tour from Hiroshima, played a powerful drum set for an excited audience. There were also opportunities to partake in chanoyu, or Japanese tea ceremonies, view the unique art of ikebana (flower arranging) and try kimono fashions.
“I came because I’m related to the Ryu Shu Kan Japanese Art Center and the dojo there,” said Shay Hohokabe, a sophomore technological system management major. “I also wanted to meet up with some of my old friends and support the dojo.”
That dojo is part of the Ryushukan Japanese Art Center which, with the Charles B. Wang Center and the Japan Center at SBU, organized the event.
Origami booths were open for most of the festival, allowing participants to sample the art of Japanese paper-folding. At arts and crafts stations, participants could draw their favorite manga characters.
A calligraphy booth, sponsored by the Ryushukan Japanese Art Center, taught three Japanese writing styles to attendants: kanji, hiragana and katakana.
Martial Arts demonstrations by the sensei and students of the Ryushukan included Okinawan kobudō (ancient weapons) and kendo (samurai swordsmanship). The Columbia University Naginata Club demonstrated the Japanese halberd.
Participating businesses included New York City’s Kimono House, which sold new and vintage kimonos, obi, and other apparel. A central feature of the festival was the annual cosplay showcase. Cosplay NYC, a non-profit cosplay organization based in Brooklyn, sponsored this year’s cosplay festivities.
The Charles B. Wang Chapel hosted a shakuhachi flute performance by Daniel Nyohaku Soergel, a Japanese music specialist, who played a 100-year-old flute from the mountains of Japan.
— Kevin Wu