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Tuesday, June 11, 2024

Davis blooms at the 2023 Cherry Blossom Festival

The Davis Cherry Blossom Festival is a celebration of spring, culture and community

 

By FAITH DEMEULENAERE — features@theaggie.org

Lea este artículo en español.

 

The Davis Cherry Blossom Festival is a two-day event celebrating Asian American culture that occurs annually in April, presented by the club Bakuhatsu Taiko Dan at UC Davis. Visitors can enjoy live performances by local bands, participate in workshops on origami, calligraphy and other Japanese arts and taste a variety of delicious Asian dishes from local restaurants such as The Dumpling House.

According to the Davis Cherry Blossom website, “Cherry Blossom draws from hanami (“flower viewing”), the Japanese seasonal observance of the coming of Spring marked by brilliant displays of cherry blossoms, as well as hanamatsuri (“flower festival”), the celebration of Shakyamuni Buddha’s (Siddhartha Gautama) birthday, usually celebrated on April 8th.”

The website also states that hanamatsuri festivals, such as the Davis Cherry Blossom Festival, honor the tradition of Japanese American communities that have been in the United States since the late 19th century and celebrate their legacies.

One of the highlights of the festival is the Taiko drumming performances, a traditional Japanese art form that combines rhythm, movement and energy to create an unforgettable experience. 

“It’s a way to bring a community together, people across the Asian diaspora and beyond,” said Sophia Loo, a fourth-year geology major and the publicity manager of the festival. “For example, I like to extend that to how we gather to listen to music. It shows how we engage with other people while we listen to the music, so it definitely brings people together.”

The Davis Cherry Blossom Festival is also an opportunity for the community to come together and celebrate its diversity and unity. The festival is organized by volunteers from different cultural backgrounds who work tirelessly to create a welcoming and inclusive atmosphere. According to Loo, the festival had twice as many food vendors and performers as last year and “almost 180 volunteers, which is the highest number since the festival [began].”

The festival carries meaning for students and members of the Davis community alike. Gloria Kum, a UC Davis alumna, said she has been part of the festival since it began eight years ago. Kum designed the 2023 Cherry Blossom Festival’s official mascot, a pink Shishi lion named Hanamin, according to her Instagram account, @glo.shrimp

“It really helped me get to where I am today in my career,” Kum said. “[Being a volunteer] really helped me grow in leadership skills, communication skills and my creativity overall. […] It is so inspiring to see how the festival has grown year by year, seeing how far my team has come in bringing the Davis community together. For students, it is just a space to have fun and learn about Japanese culture.”

The festival also showcases contemporary Japanese art, including paintings, sculptures and installations by local artists. Vendors, of whom a majority were Asian American community members, sold crochet plushies, clothes, prints, stickers, crystals, jewelry and more. 

“Just last year, we only had about 10-12 art vendors, and this year, we have about 50,” Kum said, “which is a huge jump and is absolutely amazing.” 

This year, the festival was held at the Sudwerk Brewing Co. restaurant. Trent Yackzan, a Sudwerk employee since 2009, said the brewery has been preparing for the festival all year. 

“‘Sudwerk’ is a German word, a slang term for ‘community brewing,’” Yackzan said. “It’s part of our ethos to represent that, and this festival is the ultimate representation of showcasing different cultures and people of all parts of life coming together […] It hits all the boxes of what we stand for.”

Volunteers, attendees, vendors and community members agree that the Davis Cherry Blossom Festival is a vibrant and memorable celebration that captures the essence of the city of Davis and its commitment to promoting cultural awareness and unity.

 

Written By: Faith DeMeulenaere — features@theaggie.org