Note: This event has been canceled due to expected poor weather. There is no rain date. Japan Society of Fairfield County will hold a family-friendly Cherry Blossom Festival on Sunday, May 5 from 1:30 to 3:30 pm. The festival is FREE and open to all, and will be held in Mead Memorial Park, 241 Park Street, New Canaan, CT. Highlights include Japanese-style drumming by UConn Kodama Taiko, martial arts demonstrations by Myofu-an Dojo as well as a samurai armor display.
Gabriel Santana began studying Japanese by accident. He noticed that a class in Japanese opened up at Norwalk Community College a couple of years ago and he hadn’t been interested in any other languages, so he signed up. From there, the Stratford resident recalled Sunday afternoon from the colonnade at Mead Park, he grew interested in Japanese folklore, music, history and food. “I took a very serious interest in all of that, and Japanese culture,” Santana, now secretary of NCC’s Japanese Language & Culture Club, said as a crowd of people visited the club’s table behind him, learning about tenugui or Japanese gift wrapping during the second annual Cherry Blossom Festival at Mead. Sponsored by the Japan Society of Fairfield County and the Consulate General of Japan in New York, the festival featured Japanese folk dancing, taiko drumming by UConn Taiko, the stories of Hachiko the Akita dog and Spartacus, an American Akita therapy dog with K9 First Responders, kimono dressing, ikebana flower arranging for kids, origami and calligraphy.
Ashley Fippinger held both arms out straight where she stood under a canopy tent in the bustling colonnade area of Mead Park on Sunday afternoon, as a volunteer from the Japan Society of Fairfield County folded her into a deep red kimono robe and tied on an orange sash. The Bridgeport resident hadn’t planned on donning the formal Japanese garment here, but heard about the society’s first-ever “Sakura Matsuri,” or Cherry Blossom Festival, online, and “just had to see it for myself.”
“And it’s incredible,” Fippinger said as a traditional Japanese drumming group from UConn played to a nearby crowd, gathered on the grass on a cool, overcast day. Asked how she felt to be in a kimono, she said: “I feel like a princess.”
A steady stream of residents and park visitors attended the two-hour festival, approved last month by the Parks & Recreation Commission and marking the society’s 30th anniversary. Joined by town representatives including Parks & Rec Chair Sally Campbell and commissioner Francesca Segalas, Japan Society of Fairfield County President Mito Mardin welcomed festival-goers as well as a special guest, consul Ryusuke Shimada of the Consulate General of Japan in New York. Children and families moved from hands-on station to station, trying origami, bonsai, painting and ikebana flower arrangements as live entertainment including a martial arts performance, dancing and singing took place toward the rear of the colonnade.