by Brian Scherschel
Japanese history and culture are very important in Kaijuvision Radio’s programming. The show gives listeners information about Japanese culture that is often germane to what’s going on in kaiju and tokusatsu movies.
So, I am always excited when Fort Wayne’s most Japanese event takes place!
This past Sunday (May 19th), I volunteered at the 12th annual Cherry Blossom Festival (I’m also on the planning committee). The afternoon festival is a celebration of Japanese culture held at the downtown branch of the Allen County Public Library. Entry is free to the public.
The big draws are anime and cosplay. There are competitions for cosplay, anime art, and haiku. There are quite a few vendors in the Great Hall at the Festival Marketplace. There were martial arts demonstrations, dancing, and musical performances, most of which I didn’t get to see this time around.
Below is a video of the Great Hall at the library during the festival:
Dignitaries including Fort Wayne Mayor Tom Henry and Consul-General Naoki Ito attended the festival. I was able to quickly say hi again when he visited the Japanese tea ceremony.
briefly meeting the Consul-General of Japan Naoki Ito, who traveled from Chicago
I volunteered in the Jeffrey R. Krull Gallery working with light and sound equipment, which meant I got to see all three Japanese tea ceremonies that were held that afternoon. I also was the announcer for the events in the gallery.
The tea ceremony is one of the most cultural events at the festival. The group that conducts the ceremonies is headquartered in Goshen, Indiana. They had authentic tea and Japanese sweets to have with the tea. The ceremony is intricate, so one of the group members announced what all was going on. After that, there was a violin and koto performance by Toki + Emi which was incredible.
Japanese tea ceremony
Japanese tea ceremony
Consul-General Naoki Ito (4th from left) with the Japanese tea ceremony group
These are the Bonsai trees that visit the festival. The Japanese food vendors were also outside in the plaza at the “Taste of Japan”.
Because of the rain outside, the cosplay competition was moved indoors. I got to see that and it was enjoyable. There were a lot of enthusiastic entries in the competition. Overall, I enjoyed volunteering and playing a part in this unique cultural experience that lasts such a short time. It’s just like when the cherry blossoms bloom – before you know it, they’re gone.
one of the many interesting contestants in the cosplay competition