Annual Japanese festival arrives with spring



By Zach Walton

Students won’t have to travel across the globe to experience Japanese culture this weekend.

The Yuko-En on the Elkhorn Japanese Friendship Garden will be bringing Japanese culture and fun to Georgetown, Ky., on Saturday with the annual Sakura Festival, a cultural event that celebrates the emergence of spring by viewing the blooming of cherry blossom trees.

The Sakura Festival at Yuko-En celebrates spring with traditional Japanese food such as sushi, Japanese cultural activities and UK’s own Japan studies and jazz programs performing various pieces of Japanese and American music.

Katie Siler, an art education freshman, is from Georgetown and attended the event last year.

“The Japanese food is really the main attraction,” Siler said. “The main reason people will want to stop by is for the food. I highly recommend the sushi. It’s delicious.”

Besides the food, there are many cultural events students can take part in, ranging from Japanese poetry to kite flying.

“We have a lot of different types of cool events,” said Nobuko Patton, a UK Japanese language teacher. “We have hands-on things like making origami and poems, and performances such as jazz, tea ceremony, martial arts, Japanese pottery, etc.”

For a bit of familiarity, there will be many event that will appeal to Americans as well.

“There are a lot of things unrelated to Japan at the festival such as jazz, kite (flying) and World Food,” Patton said.

Overall, the event aims to entertain as much as it does to educate about Japanese culture with the unique setting that can only be found at Yuko-En, Siler said.

“It’s a different change of scenery for Kentucky,” she said. “Kentucky only has one Japanese garden and it’s authentic. The festival really brings it to life.”

Patton said students looking for a unique experience will find just that at the festival with a variety of sights and sounds.

“The diversity of things from the beauty of garden, the performances, the Japanese food and the hands-on activities,” Patton said. “If you are interested in music, Koto, Jazz and African drums (it’s) great. You can even participate in a Haiku contest.”

UK Japanese language students will perform songs and dances at the event, with the UK Jazz Ensemble performing as well.

“If you are interested in Japanese language, UK singers will sing Japanese songs,” Patton said.

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