Tuesday, June 6, 2017

Seattle Cherry Blossom Festival 2017

Seattle's 42nd Annual Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival took place April 21st through 23rd at Seattle Center. The festival features live music and dance performances, arts and crafts workshops, tea ceremony and martial arts demonstrations, and delicious food and drink to enjoy throughout each day. I attended the final day of the festival when most of the dance performances were scheduled.

Fujima Rankoh

We were fortunate to have two performances by special guest Fujima Rankoh, a renowned dancer with the Fujima School of traditional Japanese dance.  Seattle was one of the stops on his four month US tour which included the Nihon Buyo lecture and demonstration that I attended just a few days prior.
The morning performance was Yamagaeri (Returning from a Pilgrimage to Mt. Oyama), a kabuki dance where a young fireman describes his adventures during a pilgrimage to Mt. Oyama.

Kabuki Academy

Kabuki Academy perfomed traditional Japanese dance and shamisen music, including a traditional nagauta piece, Oimatsu, Kesenai Tsumi (Full Metal Alchemist end theme), History Maker (Yuri on Ice opening theme), and You Only Live Once (Yuri On Ice end theme).

Kabuki Academy Director, Mary Ohno introduced each performance.

Sakura, Sakura performed by Mirai, Yukiko, and Miya - This traditional song describes springtime and cherry blossoms, appropriate to the Cherry Blossom Festival theme.

Aoyagi performed by Hanaka - In this dance, a mature geisha wistfully recalls the young love they had to leave behind.

Warabe Jishi performed by Akina - A young maiden performing a lion dance is overtaken by the spirit of a lion.

Kabuki Academy's performance concluded with everyone taking the stage for a dance followed by the traditional Tejime, a ceremonial 3-3-3-1 hand-clapping where everyone is encouraged to join in to end the performance on a high note.

Tea Ceremony by Chanoyu Seattle

Narration for this tea ceremony demonstration was provided by Kayo Nakamoto. The host (Teishu) was Kyoko Matsuda, Omotesenke-ryu tea ceremony teacher with Chanoyu Seattle and the assistant (Hanto) was Mitsuko Tooyama. The main guest (Shokyaku) was Naomi Okubo with second and third guests (Kyaku) Hana and Sora Okubo.

The scroll reads "Wakei Seijaku" which translates to harmony, respect, purity, and tranquility.

Following the tea ceremony, audience members were invited to take on the role of guests and have matcha prepared for them.

If you would like an opportunity to see Omotesenke tea ceremony, demonstrations are held monthly at the Seattle Art Museum (call to verify which dates are Omotesenke and which are Urasenke) and at the Seattle Japanese Garden.

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