Celebrate Jackson Park’s cherry blossoms with drumming, dancing, haiku and origami this weekend

WOODLAWN — A Sunday afternoon celebration among the cherry blossom trees in Jackson Park will come with free events to introduce visitors to Japanese culture.

A hanami festival featuring traditional Japanese drumming and dancing as well as haiku and origami sessions will take place on Sunday from noon to 3 p.m. It will be held at the Garden of the Phoenix on the wooded island of Jackson Park, 6300 S. Cornell Drive.

Hanami, which translates to “flower viewing”, is the annual custom of viewing cherry blossoms, or sakura.

“It’s such an important moment in Japan,” said Saira Chambers, director of the Japanese Cultural Center and the Japanese Arts Foundation. “We will have special performances, including a dance that is only done in this type of festival with the dancers holding cherry blossom branches.”

Drummers from the Tsukasa Taiko program will perform on the garden pavilion at 12:30 p.m. and 2 p.m., while the Shubukai classical dance troupe will perform at 1 p.m. and 2:30 p.m.

Only 100 people at a time will be able to enter the Phoenix Garden for the Tsukasa Taiko drumming and Shubukai dancing performances, Chambers said.

“These are incredible bands steeped in tradition,” Chambers said. “They bring lessons straight from Japan, schools and lineages [dating back] hundreds of years. You can’t see them anywhere else in the Midwest, if not anywhere else in the United States – it’s super special.

Haiku and origami sessions will take place throughout the afternoon, as well as a yukata table where the Japanese Consulate General in Chicago will showcase traditional summer attire.

There is no capacity limit for these events, which will take place on Wooded Island outside the garden, Chambers said.

Speeches from festival organizers representing the cultural center, the arts foundation, the Consulate General’s office, the Park District, the Jackson Park Advisory Council and the Garden of the Phoenix Foundation will take place throughout the day.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Cherry blossoms begin to bloom along the Columbia Basin near the Museum of Science and Industry in Jackson Park on April 19, 2022.

William Shehan, a haiku master at the cultural center, will be on hand to educate visitors about haiku – including breaking the myth that they all have to be written with three lines of five, seven and five syllables, he said. declared.

Shehan will also engage in brief conversations with the participants, after which he will write haikus reflecting the shared moments. He encouraged visitors to freely express their emotions during conversation, as this would lead to more personal poems.

“A haiku is and should be a Polaroid — that photograph of a moment everyone can relate to,” Shehan said. “One of the things about a haiku is that it has to be about the human condition.”

Ty Yamamoto, program director of the cultural center, will coordinate the origami sessions. Participants can learn to create paper cranes, which are a symbol of peace, he said.

“This will be my first real hanami since kindergarten,” Yamamoto said. “It’s been a long time since I had the opportunity to do something like this.”

It would be fun to teach visitors how to create an origami cherry blossom and other floral designs for the hanami festival, but these “are quite advanced” and difficult to teach at such a busy event, said Yamamoto.

Yamamoto’s favorite advanced model to create is currently “a small Godzilla figure”, which he is able to complete in 20 minutes – although it took him 90 minutes the first time around, he said.

Credit: Colin Boyle/Block Club Chicago
Cherry blossoms begin to bloom along the Columbia Basin near the Museum of Science and Industry in Jackson Park on April 19, 2022.

The hanami festival is the first of the organizers of several events this year that will be held in Jackson Park and around the South Side to engage neighbors with Japanese culture.

Performers Tsukasa Taiko and Shubukai will return to Jackson Park on August 6 for this year’s Bon Fest.

Free dance lessons will be offered at the Hyde Park Art Center “and possibly other places” ahead of Bon Fest, Chambers said.

“We want to reach those neighborhoods, reach those communities and new learners who might be interested in engaging with Japanese art, but felt they didn’t have the opportunity before,” she said. .

A tsukimi, or moon-sighting, festival will be held to coincide with the harvest moon on September 10. Attendees will come out to view the full moon and show “their gratitude for the bounty of the previous year,” Chambers said.

Subscribe to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every penny we earn funds neighborhoods across Chicago.

Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.

Thank you for subscribing to Block Club Chicago, an independent, 501(c)(3), journalist-run newsroom. Every penny we make funds Chicago neighborhoods. Click here to support Block Club with a tax-deductible donation.

Listen to “It’s Alright: A Block Club Chicago Podcast”:

Comments are closed.