Denver Cherry Blossom Festival pivots for 2021
By Stacey Shigaya
Like many others, Sakura Foundation sees the light at the end of the pandemic tunnel and is looking forward to creating connection with the community this year! Conditions in the spring were still not hopeful to move forward with planning the in-person festival at Sakura Square, but the Foundation has come up with creative and innovative ways to share the essence of the festival on their website as well as with a special never-before-offered treat for adults and kids alike!
The History of the Cherry Blossom Festival
The first Cherry Blossom Festival was held 49 years ago in downtown Denver at the grand opening of Sakura Square. In 2016, Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple was joined by Sakura Foundation to co-present the festival. This exciting weekend event highlights Japanese and Japanese American (JA) culture through music, dance, exhibits, arts and crafts, an outdoor marketplace, and food and is the only outdoor Japanese/JA cultural festival in the region. People who flock to this festival appreciate the rich culture of Japan and the contributions of the JA community in Denver. Admission to the festival is free and open the public.
Special Plans for 2021
Sakura Foundation will be posting new and exciting content on cherryblossom
denver.org throughout the year, which will allow the community to stay connected with the distinctive Japanese and JA culture. Original content will bring the festival into the homes of not just those in the Denver community, but to anyone with an Internet connection. Those who are unfamiliar with the festival can leisurely peruse the website and see what they have been missing all these years!
Past attendees of the Cherry Blossom Festival will have the opportunity to share their fond memories with the community! Everyone is welcome to record a short video saying what they love about the festival! Share-outs can be about favorite foods, exciting festival performers, cool items purchased from one of the many Marketplace vendors, or any special meaning or memory that comes to mind. Video clips can be taken on a smart phone and these clips will be posted on the website. Submission details will be posted on June 7 at cherryblossomdenver.org and shared on social media.
A new treat being introduced for the first time is Fukubukuro, or Lucky Bags! In Japan these bags are a New Year’s custom for many stores and are very popular with patrons who buy them up quickly. The Fukubukuro for adults ($45 each) will contain a number of Cherry Blossom Festival-oriented items such as tote bags, insulated wine tumblers, and masu (traditional wooden sake cups). In addition, each bag will have an unknown treat, which is the lucky item! Your treat could be tickets to Denver Botanic Gardens where you can stroll through the Japanese gardens, a silver crane necklace, Snap remotes to take selfies, handcrafted chocolate bars, neck coolers, and much more! In keeping with our conservation efforts, some lucky bags will contain one-of-a-kind tote bags crafted from recycled 2019 Cherry Blossom Festival banners!
The kid’s version of the Fukubukuro ($20 each) will contain items such as toys, Japanese sweet treats, and origami instructions. Both Fukubukuro bags will be sold in advance for purchasers to pick up at Sakura Square on a designated day. These bags will sell quickly as quantities are limited. Details on placing orders can be found starting June 7 at cherryblossomdenver.org.
About Sakura Foundation
Sakura Foundation (sakurafoundation.org) is a nonprofit whose charitable mission is to support and celebrate the Japanese and Japanese American heritage, culture and community. The Foundation supports a scholarship program, community grants, the Mirai Generations Leadership Program and cultural events throughout the year.
Sakura Foundation thanks the generous Plum and Bamboo Level monetary and in-kind sponsors of the 2021 Cherry Blossom Festival endeavors, as well as:
Sakura Level – $2000+
Hiratsuka & Associates
Bonsai Level: $1000 – $1999