The thudding, rhythmic sounds of taiko drums, the smell of curry, and the sight of bright pink cherry blossoms, filled the air at the 5th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival on Saturday, April 30th. The festival celebrates Japanese culture and introduces Brookline students and families to Japanese traditions.
The event was staffed by over 100 high school students, according to Japanese teacher Rachel Eio, including some who returned from a trip to Japan last week. Activities included trying on yukatas, a lighter summer version of the kimono, making sakura trees out of clothespins, and eating omusoba, a noodle and egg dish, among many other attractions.
Junior Ever McMillan is currently in Japanese II with Eio. She went on the trip to Japan and says she is very involved in the Japanese program. This year, she worked at a game booth and then helped serve shaved ice and a meat and rice dish.
“There were tons of food booths. It was all very authentic,” McMillan said.
Many families with young children participated in the various activities.
“There were a lot of little kids there, which is great because they all seemed to be enjoying themselves,” she said.
Senior Julia Lyberger has gone in past years and described the positive atmosphere of this year’s festival.
“I think it was a really good experience. It brings Japanese culture to Brookline and I think it was very lively,” Lyberger said.
Junior Halna Nagasaka, who is Japanese, worked at a restaurant booth and served okonomiyaki, a Japanese-style savory pancake.
“I want to help spread the Japanese culture to our school,” Nagasaka said.
Junior Mizuki Kurosawa, who is also Japanese, said that American food is very different from Japanese food, and that much of the Japanese food available in the U.S. is very Americanized. She said she was excited to show people real Japanese food with authentic ingredients.
Nagasaka said that that many Japanese people attended and participated.
“They said it was like a real Japanese festival,” Nagasaka said.
Genki Spark, a women’s taiko drumming organization, partnered with the Japanese program for this event. They created a video to celebrate this year’s festival.
The festival also has a website: http://www.brooklinecherryblossom.com/.
Bertina Xue and Sofia Tong contributed reporting.