Cherry Blossom Festival kicks off at Japanese House [photos]

    The thunder of drums and the solemnity of a tea ceremony officially ushered in Philadelphia’s cherry blossom season at Fairmount Park’s Japanese House and Garden. But cherry blossoms, there were none.

    Japanese House manager Derek Finn studied the tightly furled buds on a branch overhanging the garden wall and estimated it would be two weeks before the trees burst into bloom.

    Perhaps it will be in time for the Sakura festival, the culminating event of the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia. Two weeks of events celebrate Japanese culture with music, dance, foods, crafts, and demonstrations of martial arts. 

    Although the long cold winter has apparently delayed the bloom of the cherry trees, the morning sun warmed the porch of the Japanese house and visitors padded around its floors in stocking feet. Volunteers Terry Sherwin and Azusa Motano prepared matcha, the finely powdered green tea used in Japanese ceremonies.

    Women, dressed in kimonos, served their guests cafeteria style, but the tea ceremony is much more formal, said Sherwin. “In the ceremony, we are using tea as a vehicle to be in the moment, to be aware,” she said.

    The Japanese House will host a formal tea ceremony on Saturday, April 12. Registration is required.

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