The official kickoff of this year's 2014 Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival is Tuesday morning with a celebration at Shofuso, the Japanese house and gardens in West Fairmount Park.
The festival is a yearly project that not only reinforces the Japan American Society of Greater Philadelphia's commitment to plant and maintain cherry trees in the city and its parks, but also to foster a better understanding of the cultural, social and educational customs of Japan.
Tuesday's ceremony will feature women dressed in kimonos, a traditional Japanese tea ceremony at the gardens and the official proclamation of this year's festival. The breaking of sake barrel signifies the opening of the festival which official starts on Wednesday and lasts until April 13. Events include food tastings, cultural events, origami, a 5k race, sushi-making classes and more.
Speakers at Tuesday's kickoff include Kazumi Teune, executive director of the JASGP; Takeshi Tachimori, president and CEO from presenting sponsor Subaru of America Inc. Adelaide Ferguson, chairperson of the festival, will emcee.
To date, JASGP has planted more than 1,000 cherry trees.
About 1,600 were presented by the Japanese government as a friendship gesture in 1926.
In 2007, the JASGP made a 1,000-tree pledge. Now, they plant in community and neighborhood parks like Clark, Franklin Square and Morris.
Learn how to make sushi
Madame Saito, owner of The HeadHouse, will be hoisting sushi-making classes at The HeadHouse Crafe Beer Cafe at 122 Lombard Street in Society Hill. Members can join for fun or be a part of the festival's amateur Subaru Sushi Samurai of the Year competition at the conclusion of the festival during Sakura Sunday on April 13. Classes are $50.
Classes and times are:
6:30 to 8:30 p.m., April 2 4 to 6 p.m., April 6 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., April 8 6:30 to 8:30 p.m., April 10