Spring is here! If there was even an ounce of doubt if winter is truly over (we were still in coats and boots last week) the gorgeous weather we’ve had since this weekend and especially during Sakura Sunday of the Philadelphia’s annual Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival assured me that it is.
In Japan the sakura, or cherry blossoms, represent beauty, renewal, and the ephemeral nature of life. Several of the speakers encouraged everyone to enjoy the cherry blossoms by picknicking under a blooming sakura – the “Hanami” – which is a centuries old practice of people having lunch and drinking sake in cheerful feasts.
We went early in the day to listen to live music and to watch dance, martial arts performances, and the traditional sake barrel breaking. Kagami Biraki is a ceremony performed at celebratory events in which the lid of the barrel is opened by a wooden mallet. The round shape of the Kagami (lid of the sake barrel) symbolizes harmony and the act of Biraki (to open) represents an opening of harmony and good luck.
Philadelphia’s Fairmount Park was filled with beautifully blooming cherry trees, live entertainment, friendly vendors, Japanese arts and crafts, and festival-goers. Because I love maccha (here’s a recipe for Maccha Truffles), I was excited to find a gourmet maccha chocolatier and to bring home a box each of the Maccha Bar Chocolate and Nama Chocolate Maccha.