Philadelphia’s cherry blossoms near bloom for festival

While cherry blossoms are out now in Cherry Hill, N.J., in Philadelphia they are only just starting to emerge. The organizers of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival promise the pink flowers will be open by this Sunday–Sakura Sunday.

This year, the festival will undoubtedly feel the weight of the disasters in Japan, which the Japanese are still trying to control.

Three performing arts groups traveled from Japan to be part of Philadelphia’s festival, including taiko drummers, Kyoto musicians and Noh theater performers. That is more than festival has attracted in any one of its previous 13 years.

“The people coming from Japan to perform—they want to come, more than ever, to show Japan is OK,” said festival director Kazumi Teune. “They are not going to be discouraged by this major disaster after World War II. Instead, they want to have more exchange with the United States.”

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The programming of the festival was determined long before the disaster in Japan. No changes were made to the festival in response, other than adding collection boxes Sunday in Fairmount Park at the Japanese House and the Horticulture Center.

The Japanese Ambassador at the Consulate General in New York will be in attendance to give up-to-date information about disaster-recovery efforts.

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