Philly Cherry Blossom Festival 2012

We attended the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia (aka Sakura Fest) this past Sunday again this year!

The link for more info: http://sakura.japanphilly.org/

Per tradition, Megan made her beautiful bento boxes and yummy Japanese inspired food. This time I was an assistant to an Iron Chef! We woke up at the crack of dawn (aka 6am) to make the food as fresh as possible and allowing for cooling time.

One of the tasks I was given was to make flower-shaped cucumbers. Megan, who is also a Japanese minor, is writing her final Senior project for her language minor requirements about the “Science of Bento.” She told me that they often use cookie-cutters to make cute shapes with food. There is also a particular meat to veggie ratio and emphasis of color & display in a good bento.

Step 1: First I washed, peeled, and sliced the cucumbers.

Step 2: Center a cookie cutter on top of a slice of cucumber. Push down & pull off excess.

Step 3: Viola! An adorable flower shape!

Here is the bento all tied up, along side some extra food and fried plantains!

After meeting up with some more friends, we took the earliest shuttle down to the Horicultural Center by Fairmount Park. With ticket and transportation, it was only $20 plus a SEPTA token! When we arrived at the festival, the first thing we did was take a tour of the Japanese house.

Our tour guide was fantastic. First of all the rules were “shoes on rock, socks on wood,” therefore we were asked to removed our shoes when we entered the house. Our guide explained how Japanese houses were built to admire & revere nature. The house and garden were not meant to be separate units, as thought of in Western culture, but rather one integrative unit.

The pathway to the tea ceremony area was built purposely rocky so that people would walking carefully and cautiously on the stone slabs. It was really amazing to see how colorful and rich in texture each of the gardens of the Japanese house were.

A unique feature of the house we saw was that it had a tea house and bath house right next to each other. According to our tour guide, this was not a typical house layout, however, for purposes of the exhibit it was built that way.

On the way out of the tour, we saw one of the few cherry blossom trees in full bloom at the park. Sadly, because of the weird weather fluctuations of extreme warm weather followed by a freeze shock, most of the trees had lost their pretty flowers. Last year, we were graced with rows upon rows of pink & white flowered trees. Unfortunately, that was no the case this year. Thanks a lot global warming.

Afterwards, we had a lot of fun looking through the shop booths and getting free stuff!

We also watched many of the events during the festival, such as the kids martial arts demo and the prettiest pet in pink competition.

Of course we also participated in the events they hosted! Some of use made fish kites while others did some calligraphy! Sadly I stained my dress with ink (and it’s stuck there permanently), but nothing horribly noticeable, I think.

Some finished products!

Most importantly, we found a flowering cherry blossom tree (one of the few!) to sit under and have a picnic lunch! We tied our fishes to the tree to claim our territory!

Megan was the main preparer of the food, I helped as an assistant chef, while Kim brought some delish strawberries 🙂

We were so full afterwards! Look at those happy faces 🙂

Eventually, it actually got too hot & sunny to stay in the park (which was the total opposite of the doom and gloom rainy cloudy forecast for the day). We eventually retreated home and decided to end the entire night at a hibachi restaurant (discounted for the festival!). John’s parents and Aniket decided to join along 🙂

‘Twas an excellent Sunday, dubbed MegaDAYUM for the rest of the ages (aka Megan’s Damn Awesome Day).

Sakura Sunday – A Philadelphia Cherry Blossom Festival

I’m so behind on my blogging! But it’s nice that I have a huge surplus of topics to write about lately.This past Sunday, my dear friend and former roomie (but now current apartment mate) Megan had volunteered at the Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival of Greater Philadelphia as a Crafts Assistant.
It’s actually been running from March 4 to April 15. However two of their main events, the 5K Run and Sakura Sunday occurred on April 9-10. The event is hosted at the Horicultural Center, a 20-25 minute bus ride away from University City. Just $10 for entrance and your transportation fare.

http://jasgp.org/cherryblossomfestival/

Quite honestly when Megs asked me and John to arrive in the morning at the opening at 10:30 am, we were skeptical. What were we going to do for almost 6 hours in a small outdoor area?

The answer was a pleasant surprise.

First of all, just looking at all the different varieties of cherry blossoms took up a huge chuck of time & was ever so enjoyable. Some science behind the beautiful flower bearing trees:  The ones referred to as “sakura” trees are from the genus Prunus. According to the site there were over 10 different species of cherry blossoms there.

Besides gazing & photo taking fun, there were a ton of vendors selling Asian and Japanese merchandise or themed items. I came out with a slightly aching wallet, but a lot of loot. I’ve posted a few below, and the rest you will see in a month or so after a certain someone’s birthday  ;D

John got a plant and a practice sword we couldn’t stop playing with haha.

Also, there were many donation sites for Relief in Japan from the earthquakes. In one of charity booths, there was a really cool display of giant origami.

John was also able to participate in his very own origami as well. Meet Dilbert aka Dilly the crane.

Of course we went over to visit the crafting goddess, Megan. She was at the calligraphy table. Me and John tried our hand at the ancient art of brush strokes.

John’s says Samurai, Hope, & Japan I think. My paper says Samurai & Ninja. Hopefully our blotchy characters don’t translate to something offensive.

My favorite craft of all was the fish paper kites we got do. Hosted by the Philadelphia Art Museum, their booth was a huge hit. I waited like a creep til the last minute to do a fishy because A) I was slightly embarassed and more importantly B) I wanted as many kids to make theirs before supplies ran out. Lucky for the three of us, there were plenty of templates left!

Meet my darling Tuna Can, who I revamped after the Sakura Sunday to look like an Olympics mascot (by accident). And here is Megan’s swirly Miss Salmon! Finally, John & Bob, the flower-filled eye hole fish!

There were also a lot of events I couldn’t take photos of because I was too short and it was crowded: like drums & dance presentations, martial art expositions, a Harujuku inspired fashion show I sadly missed. I was able to see some cosplayers and  a few really well dressed sweet lolitas, however. I sadly didn’t catch my favorite group on  film because I didn’t want to disturb their lunch time XD

But the main event was one from home!

Megan’s homemade bentos! Not only did this girl go and give her time to volunteer on a Sunday morning, but she woke up at 6am to cook these up.

Absolutely delicious, made from love, and tots free! I’ll let the beautiful pics do the talking! Fruits, veggies, onigiri, shrimp, egg and sweet egg (tamago) and dinosaur shaped chicken and a rabbit shaped apple!

A wonderful display that was great to consume & look at. Love this girl.

So all in all, a superb Sakura Sunday!