Spring is in the air, Philadelphia, and that means the multitude of cherry trees in the region will soon bloom with gorgeous blushing cherry blossoms.
As we look for the cherry trees to burst with pink and white blossoms, the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia presents its annual fête of flowers and Japanese culture, the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival, April 6-12.
Celebrating the near forest of sakura (flowering Japanese cherry trees) in historic Fairmount Park, most of which were first planted in 1926 as a gift from the people of Japan, the festival honors Philadelphia’s traditional and contemporary Japanese cultural connections.
Kicking off on April 6, dozens of events are set to take place throughout the week, ranging from martial arts demonstrations and flower arranging to live drumming and dance performances.
Over the course of the festival, look forward to culinary events, workshops, film screenings, performances and more that all promote Japanese culture. On Sunday, April 12, the festival culminates with a daylong event in Fairmount Park, Sakura Sunday.
And though peak cherry blossom-viewing may not be until after the annual festival wraps, beautiful buds are sure to create a colorful backdrop to the festivities.
Read on for our picks of top festival highlights, and see the complete schedule of events online.
• Dine Out Japan Restaurant Week
April 5-10, Various locations. $20, lunch; $35, dinner. Dig in to Japanese culture through its food. During Dine Out Japan Restaurant Week, sample a three-course menu at five of the city’s Japanese restaurants on the cheap — $20 for lunch and $35 for dinner. Participating restaurants include Morimoto, Yakitori Boy, Fuji Mountain, Gyu-Kaku Japanese BBQ and Shiroi Hana. MORE INFO
• Japanese Culture Week
April 6-10, Liberty Place Rotunda, 16th and Chestnut streets. Free. During the first full week of the festival, April 6-10, visit the rotunda of The Shops at Liberty Place to take part in free interactive lunchtime displays. MORE INFO
• Film Screening: The Wind Rises
Thursday, April 9, 6:30-8:30 p.m., University of Pennsylvania, Claudia Cohen Hall, Room 402. Catch the animated classic film The Wind Rises from director Hayao Miyazaki, the man responsible for many amazing anime feature films like Spirited Away, Howl’s Moving Castle and Ponyo. MORE INFO
Fore more on the Cherry Blossom Festival, see below.
• Amateur Sushi Making Contest
Wednesday, April 8, 6:30 p.m., Tokio Headhouse, 122-124 Lombard Street. $25. Roll your own? Sign up for the festival’s amateur sushi-making contest to pit skills against other aspiring sushi masters. Tastings of hors d’oeuvres, sake, wine and craft beer are also included. Check here for more.
• Nodate Tea Ceremony
Saturday, April 11, 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m. Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, Lansdowne and Horticultural Drives, West Fairmount Park, $35. To experience a traditional Japanese tea ceremony on Shofuso’s veranda, register for one of two ceremonies on Saturday, April 11. Space is limited and reservations are required. MORE INFO
• Cherry Blossom 5K and 10K
Saturday, April 11, 6:30 a.m., Horticulture Center, Fairmount Park. $20-$35. A day before Sakura Sunday events get started, the Cherry Blossom 5K and 10K kicks off the weekend at 7 a.m. for a fundraising run against the backdrop of blooming Japanese cherry trees at the Fairmount Park Horticulture Center. Register online for this feel-good spring run. MORE INFO
• Sakura Sunday
Sunday, April 12, 9:30 a.m.-5 p.m., Horticulture Center, Fairmount Park. $10, adults; free, children 12 and under. Come Sunday, April 12, the centerpiece of the festival unfolds with the day-long Japanese culture extravaganza Sakura Sunday. This celebration of all things Japanese includes a ton of activities in Fairmount Park — from live music and dance performances, to martial arts demonstrations and karaoke. Look out for highlights like the Harajuku Fashion Show, tours of Shofuso Japanese garden house and much more. MORE INFO
• Sakura Under the Stars
Saturday, April 11, 6-8 p.m., Union Trust, 717 Chestnut Street. JASGP members $100, non-members $120. Join the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia for a cocktail party fundraiser at Union Trust in Center City. Featuring sushi, hors d’oeuvres and cocktails and benefitting the Cherry Blossom Festival and the Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia. MORE INFO
• Peak Cherry Blossom Viewing
April 18-23. For the first time ever, the experts at the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden in Fairmount Park — which is the epicenter of Fairmount Park’s forest of Cherry Blossoms; it’s even home to a 75-year-old weeping cherry tree! – are predicting specific dates for the peak dates to view cherry blossom blooms in Philadelphia this year: right around April 18-23. To see where the prime cherry-blossom viewing might be in Fairmount Park, check our guide to the best places for cherry-blossom viewing in Philadelphia. MORE INFO