Denver Cherry Blossom Festival 2013

Since I have moved to Denver, Colorado, I spent a lot of time with my in-laws. We always plan frequent get together for an opportunity to enjoy food and wine, sometime hiking trip, sport activities and occasionally some interesting annual events around town. I love going to events that support local business, promote sense of community and learn about history, cultures and get closer to nature.  They always seem know what are happening each week around Denver and nothing is better than hang out with the local, right? I love hanging out with them as we have similar interests and I always enjoy our conversation.

Last weekend, there was an annual cherry blossom festival that has been held each year since 1972. I have heard of this festival since when I was attending my graduated school here back in 2004 but have never really been there or know when it is happening. Sure enough, we got a phone call from them on Saturday and asked if we would be interested in Cherry Blossom Festival. We promptly said yes as I always wanted to go.

The festival was held at Tri-state Denver Buddhist Temple, Downtown Denver. Instead of driving downtown, we decided to use public transportation to save the environment (at least when we can)We look LightRail, Denver public train system, and continue walking to the events area. By using public transportation, especially to downtown, we don’t have to worry about finding parking space, get frustrated while driving and pay for parking. It is also help reduce amount of pollution and you get to relax, have conversation, read your favorite book or listening to audio book. One thing I hope to see in the future though, that the price will be more encouraging for people to switch to use more public transportation.

The main purpose of the festival is to celebrate the Japanese American (JA) heritage and culture of Front Range residents through entertainment, food and drink, arts and crafts, and informative exhibits and demonstrations. Japanese has a very unique culture and very well known with their delicate crafting skills, their attention to details and never fail to amaze me with their ability to make very thing looks nice and beautiful.

When we arrived the event area, there were a variety of arts and crafts vendors along the street such as handmade jewelry, pottery, books and anime, dolls, Japanese Hawaiian T-shirt, vintage kimono, fine art and the shodo (calligraphy) booth to have your name or a favorite expression written in Japanese.. One of my favorite vendors was Japanese origami and Japanese paper folding art that beautifully displays with hand paint and crafting materials.

At the end of the event street, there was a big stage for the Japanese traditional performances. They were performing drum performances when we got there, which was very interesting and entertaining. The other performances at the festival were Japanese dance, koto and shamisen, and martial arts.

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At the front door of the temple, there was a wishing tree for people to write their wish on a paper and hang on the tree. Continuing inside the temple, you can take a seat to listen to informative lectures on Buddhism or explore the exhibition of ikebana (flower arrangement) and bonsai. Bonsai is s a Japanese art form using miniature trees grown in containers. The purposes are primarily contemplation (for the viewer) and the pleasant exercise of effort and ingenuity (for the grower).  By looking at arts and tradition, you can almost see the characteristic of people that inherited in their culture.

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At the other end of the temple, there was variety of food and drink, including teriyaki chicken dinner plate, beef udon (noodle) and vegetarian udon bowls, sushi, and Japanese sweets called manju and mochi. There was also the beer garden down stair. They also served refreshing bowl of chilled somen (noodles) and Teriyaki burgers.

After about an hour or so walking around the events and checked out art and craft vendors, Gail has purchased 5 hand-made origami postcards and half-off Japanese cookbook for her next dinner party idea. It was a bargain.

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It was quite a hot day on Sunday and after all that walking, we were ready to go eat. Nothing would be more appropriate than Japanese Food on Japanese Festival Day. Since we are vegan and both of my in-laws are vegetarian, we decided to head to our favorite Japanese restaurant downtown, Hapa. They have quite a selection of vegan sushi and vegetarian. Every time we go there, food always good. I had seaweed salad, tofu pocket, vegetarian and avocado caterpillar sushi. My tummy was happy !,  We ended our day out by walking along 16th street mall back to LightRail station and head back home to our beloved pets. It was a fun day!

If you are in a mood for Japanese food after reading all about it, check out my Japanese inspired vegan dishes that you can make at home such as Cold Soba Noodle with Ginger Sauce, Miso glazed eggplant and Chickpea “tuna” sushi roll.

Thank you for visiting my blog and don’t forget to check out what is going on next weekend in your city. You could learn new thing, get new idea, inspirations, and get to spent quality time with friends and family at little or no cost.

“The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you’ll go.” ― Dr. Seuss