Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival

Pelham Art Center

Apr. 26, 2014, 01:30 am

155 5th Avenue


Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival at Pelham Art Center
Saturday, April 26, 2014, 1:30-3:30pm

Free Ikebana (flower arranging) and Weaving Workshops Plus a Traditional Japanese Dance Performance. Part of our Folk Arts Series.

Cherry Blossom season returns to Pelham Art Center on Saturday, April 26, 2014 from 1:30- 3:30pm! Join us as we celebrate our third annual Cherry Blossom Festival (Sakura Matsuri) with free hands-on workshops and activities in the traditional arts of Japan as part of our Folk Arts Series.

Throughout the event participants can take part in two hands-on workshops. Artist Shoko Iwata and her two assistants, Jerry Gross and Vivien Huang Kwok, will lead a workshop in traditional Japanese floral art from the Sogetsu School of Ikebana. Running simultaneously, weaving artist Yukako Satone will instruct participants on how to weave a cherry blossom on a SAORI loom, a contemporary Japanese hand-weaving method. Participants will be able to take home their celebratory cherry blossom arrangements and woven flowers. At 2:30, IchiFuji-kai Dance Association will present a traditional Japanese dance performance. Also called Nihon buyo or nichibu, it is a classical performing art that grew out of and is very similar to dance of the Kabuki theatre.

In keeping with the spirit of the day, visitors can contribute to a community “wish tree,” by writing messages of hope and adding them to our collection. PAC will then mail the wishes to a central repository of wishes from around the world, becoming part of a greater project organized by Yoko Ono.

About Cherry Blossom Season

Japan does not have an official flower, but sakura, or the cherry blossom, is most certainly its unofficial one. Its delicate beauty has captivated the Japanese for centuries and has long been a primary motif in Japanese art for both its aesthetic quality and its symbolism. The blossom of the cherry tree signifies the arrival of spring and is celebrated as a herald of hope and a bright future. Its small, pale petals are also associated with purity. But the flower’s delicate quality lends it a decidedly melancholy air, as well. After the cherry tree’s buds open, it’s just a few short days before the blooms have vanished entirely — the lovely petals all shed in a spectacular pink flurry. The blossom’s ephemeral beauty has become a poignant symbol of impermanence [in Japanese visual culture].

The Tradition of Hanami

In Japan, the seasonal blooming of cherry trees is a matter of enormous importance and is celebrated nationally in an event known as hanami (flower-viewing). Starting in late March, television weather reporters give the public daily blossom forecasts, tracking the “cherry blossom front” as it progresses from the south to the north. Families, coworkers, and groups of friends rely on these to quickly organize hanami parties as the cherry trees begin to bloom locally. Parks like Tokyo’s famous Ueno Park become crowded with picnickers, and rowdy nighttime revels take on a festival atmosphere. The practice of hanami is centuries old; it began sometime in the Nara period, during the 8th century, when it referred to the viewing of the ume, or plum tree. But by the Helan period (8th to 12th centuries), hanami was synonymous with sakura. The blossoming of the cherries was used to predict the next year’s harvest, and hanami was a time to perform rituals marking the start of the planting season. These rituals ended with a feast under the trees, much like the present day.

About the Ikebana Artists

For 45 years, Ikebana has been Shoko Iwata’s life, having been involved in the Sogetsu School of Ikebana since she was 16 years old. Iwata received her teaching certification from the Tokyo headquarters of The Sogetsu Foundation. She once taught at JAL when it was located on 53rd St & Fifth Ave and has since inherited her mother’s students in Westchester and has collected her own. Iwata’s other love is supporting the YWCA of White Plains & Central Westchester. Last October they hosted their 32nd Ikebana exhibition at their North Street – 515 North St., White Plains, NY building. Iwata supports their mission of “empowering women & ending racism” and has served on their board a few times. As a way to support the mission, Iwata teaches free Ikebana workshops to the women of the YWCA who reside at the N. Broadway residence, the lowest income housing in Westchester County. In addition to teaching, Iwata has demonstrated Ikebana at the Hammond Museum, North Salem and the Brooklyn Heights Garden Club. Most recently she exhibited at the Brooklyn Brewery with the “Gohan Society”, a fundraiser in March 2013 with Ikebana International NY members. Iwata belongs to the Sogetsu NY Branch & Ikebana International NY Chapter.

Jerry Gross has a professional background in floral design, specifically with silk flowers and has made trips often to China for its manufacture.

Vivien Huang Kwok has exhibited at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and has been studying Ikebana for over a decade.

About Loop of the Loom

Loop of the Loom is the only hand-weaving studio in the New York metropolitan area, offering classes, which introduce the award winning SAORI method for children and adults. SAORI is a ZEN art of weaving from Japan that is dedicated to free expression and self-development. Loop of the Loom has the pleasure of introducing this easy-to-learn form of, what we like to call, “happy weaving” and unique craft classes using fibers from mother nature. Inspired through the experience of living, the art of SAORI encourages self expression, personal growth and healing. SAORI lets us celebrate the beauty of our imperfections by weaving differing colors, threads and textures into a fabric that reflects the masterpiece of our own humanity. Our goal is not to teach, but to lead people to explore themselves through SAORI Weaving Arts.

About Japanese Classical Dance

Classical Japanese dance began around 1603, along with the first performances of Kabuki Theatre. In Japanese, it is also called Nihon buyō or nichibu. Even today, all Kabuki actors must first learn to dance.

In classical Japanese dance, the dancer interprets the poetry being sung rather than dancing only to musical melodies. For instance, if the words of the song say, “It was a very hot day,” the dancer might fan herself to show how hot it is, or if the words refer to a gentle breeze, the dancer’s movements could become the cool breeze itself. Sometimes the dancer moves rhythmically to the music as well. A fan (osensu) helps interpret the poetry by representing many things and illustrating many moods. The fan can be used completely closed, with one rib opened, or fully open. Other small hand props, such as an umbrella (kasa) or hand towel (tenugui) are also often used in dance.

In classical Japanese dance, you don’t have to be young, you don’t have to be thin, and you don’t always have to be the “ballerina.” Men and women study both male and female styles so that any character can be portrayed. Male style is very open, with all energy directed outward — the feet are turned out, and the elbows are held out and away from the body to give an impression of masculinity and strength. Female style is just the opposite, but equally strong — the feet are turned slightly inward with the knees held closely together, the arms are carried closer to the body, and the movements are smaller and softer, so as to be more feminine.

There are many styles or schools of classical Japanese dance. IchiFuji-kai performs in the elegant Soke Fujima style. Headed by Grandmaster Fujima Kanjuro VIII, the Soke Fujima style, with it’s 300-year history, is a theatrical dance style and one of the most important styles still being performed in the Kabuki theatre today.


Pelham Art Center 155 Fifth Avenue Pelham, NY 10803 914-738-2525 [email protected]

Hours: Tuesday–Friday, 10–5pm; Saturday, 10–4pm

Directions: Located 5 blocks from the Hutchinson Parkway exit 12 and 2 blocks from the Metro North Pelham stop

These events and programs are made possible, in part, by the ArtsWestchester with funds from Westchester County Government. Pelham Art Center also receives funding from: New York State Council on the Arts, A State Agency; Westchester Jewish Community Services; hibu; Nurses Network of America; Town of Pelham; New Rochelle Campership Fund; Bistro Rollin; Robin’s Art+Giving; Nycon; Junior League of Pelham, Prospect Hill Lunchtime Enrichment; Strypemonde Foundation; Mark Link Insurance; Broadway Electric, Owen Berkowitz; Members; and Annual Fund Donors.

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