The 2022 Richmond Cherry Blossom Festival is the result of community members across the city coming together to celebrate spring and Japanese culture. Dozens of volunteers have donated their time and skills to demonstrating traditional Japanese arts and culture, from bonsai to tea ceremonies.
Here’s a sneak peek at the artisans behind this year’s virtual event.
Arts and crafts
Master calligrapher Fusako Fujiki and her daughter Rei Fujiki demonstrate how to write two Japanese words. The first is ありがとう (arigatou), or “thank you.” The second word is 絆 (KIZUNA), or “the bonds or connections between people,” which is also this year’s festival theme.
Shizue Fukuda and Mieko Ushijima are both long-term festival volunteers with a passion for origami, or the art of folding paper. Since the Richmond Cherry Blossom Festival first began, they have taught visitors how to create traditional origami figures. This year, they will demonstrate how to fold a cherry blossom flower.
Steveston is home to a vibrant community of Japanese Canadians. The local seniors have started a crafting group in order to learn new hobbies while spending time together. Ranging in age from 84 to 102, this skilled group will demonstrate how to create a woven basket discontinued can labels courtesy of BC Packers — although people at home can follow along with any kind of paper. The video will feature the handiwork of Kazuko Yamashita, Sazare Morizawa, Hanako Oye, Flo Sameshima, Sumiko Tabata, and Kiyoko Tanaka.
Kiyoko Boycott, the director of the Vancouver branch of the Sogetsu School, is a renowned master in ikebana, or Japanese flower arrangement. She demonstrates the fundamentals of the Sogetsu School of flower arrangement alongside two of her students, Romy Chan and Stephen Kuo, using seasonal flowers and trees.
Tak Yamaura is a bonsai master who has been honing his art for more than 45 years. Born in 1944 in Nagasaki, Japan, Tak grew up in the Japanese countryside amongst tree-covered rolling hills. He continues to gain inspiration from his verdant childhood, and draws on his memories in each work. For the festival, he will demonstrate how to re-pot and prune a growing bonsai tree.
Food and culture
Takeya Sushi is a local restaurant that has been part of the Richmond Cherry Blossom Festival since its inception in 2017. Specializing in a variety of fresh sushi and bento boxes, this year chef Paul demonstrates how to roll temaki sushi (hand rolls) into perfect cones.
Michiko Nishi, Yuko Horn, Kazuko Ikegawa, and Yuko Nakamoto are masters of the Japanese tea ceremony. For this year’s festival, they will demonstrate the process of making usucha (thin, powdered green tea), including the tools that are required and detailed instructions on each step. They even share the best way for participants to enjoy the tea, by watching respectfully and carefully.
Eriko Fukada-Cyr is a teacher at the Steveston Japanese Language School, where culture is a major component of the curriculum. Eriko will be demonstrating how to properly dress her daughter, Marina Cyr, in a kimono, a traditional Japanese garment. There are many different types of kimono, and she will be demonstrating how to dress in a ko-furisode, which is a type that would be worn by a single female at a wedding reception, coming of age ceremony, graduation, or any other formal occasion.
Taiko drumming is a popular form of music. The Vancouver Okinawa Taiko group will perform two works: “Miruku Munari” by Hidekatsu is a popular song that describes the Okinawan people as they celebrate and appreciate the bountiful crops of the season. “Dynamic Ryukyu” is a song by Akira Ikuma that expresses respect towards Okinawan nature, culture, and history, and is a popular choice for sporting events.
Complete your virtual festival experience by singing along to a traditional folk song! Hiromitsu Akitaya, Kayo Akagi, and Chizuru Nakatsu of the Steveston Minyo Club will lead a sing-along version of “Nagaiki Ondo,” or “Song of Longevity.” Viewers at home can follow along in Japanese.