45th Annual Seattle Cherry Blossom & Japanese Cultural Festival (virtual)

On April 24, the Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese Cultural Festival went online in order to be part of the solution to flatten the coronavirus curve. This is the first ethnic festival of Seattle Center Festal to go virtual. Reaching into its treasure chest of archival videos, the Festival shared gems from the past to celebrate its 45th year.  A special highlight was from 2010 and featured the collaboration of the Consulate-General of Japan and the Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese Cultural Festival that made history in outer space! https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lAEb_dnzWas
The festival began on Friday with some technical issues but the festival was able to overcome the issues and still stream. The first portion of the day was done live online, and the later videos were pre-recorded.


Anticipation ran high as the countdown began.

Despite a few technical glitches, the festival went live via their website and Facebook.

A live portion titled “Storytelling” with Jeff Chiba Stearns where he read stories and taught how to draw.

A scene from the film “What Are You Anyways?”

Headmaster OHARA Hiroki from the Ohara School of Ikebana demonstrating Ikebana in Seattle.

Folk Tales by Lori Tsugawa Whaley using puppets to make the stories come to life.

The second day, Consul General Yoichiro Yamada gave live remarks from his home about the history of the festival. He thanked those on the frontlines during the COVID-19 crisis as well as the leaders in Washington State. He reflected on Japan’s recent history of natural disasters and mentioned that it is how we react to crises that show who we are. He thanked the organizers for continuing the festival, which represents a “creative resilience.” A statement from The Honorable Jenny Durkhan, Mayor of Seattle, was shared before the festival continued with more videos.


Tazue Sasaki, Festival Chair, welcomed viewers to the festival before introducing Consul General Yamada.

Live from his home, Consul General Yamada delivered a greeting of encouragement at the beginning of the second day of the festival.
Message from Mayor of Seattle, Jenny Durkan.
An opening shot of “One Big Happa Family” Movie.
Sakai Takayuki Knives showing the stages of crafting knives.

Imagawayaki demonstration by Konko Church.

Paul Talbert, President of Friends of Seward Park, provided a virtual tour of the cherry blossom trees around Seward Park.

The final day had no live components but was the longest day of the festival. The day began with aikido and soba demonstrations, and two films, “Mixed Match” and “Never Give Up!” were shown.

Aikido demonstration by Ki Aikido USA, showing that someone smaller can take down a larger opponent.

Soba-making demonstration by Meee Minamato that you can recreate in your own home.

Jeff Chiba Stearns movie “Mixed Match” discusses the importance of finding the right match for bone marrow transplants.

“Never Give Up!” film about Min Yasuda during the incarceration of Japanese people and Japanese Americans during World War II.

Despite some technical difficulties at the start, the festival was a success with more than 2000 views across the three days.

A thank you to all the groups who contributed to the virtual festival.


We look forward to more innovative ideas and resilience until we can gather again. Below are links to each day’s video and timestamps for each segment so you can enjoy the festival at any time.


Friday, April 24th:
Friday final video: https://www.facebook.com/252804314780910/videos/670567373776462/
-0:00:00 Storytelling
-1:23:13 Interview
-1:18:32 JAXA Astronaut Yamazaki
-1:35:39 “What Are You Anyways?” Film
-1:46:43 Origin of Happa
-1:49:46 Medals with Memory
-1:54:15 Furoshiki
-1:58:32 Ikebana
-2:01:10 Hirosaki’s Cherry Tree Doctors
-2:05:49 New Life for an Old Wisteria
-2:10:10 Uji
-2:14:35 The Japanese Love of Sound
-2:18:52 Folk Tales
-2:28:29 Nihon Buyo 101 Workshop
Stream time: 2:42:24
Saturday, April 25th:
Saturday’s Video: https://www.facebook.com/252804314780910/videos/2600142656757625/
-0:3:26 Consul General Yoichiro Yamada’s remarks.
-0:9:59 - Mayor of Seattle
-0:11:04 One Big Happa Family film
-1:36:34 Hanami in Space
-1:42:41 JAXA Astronaut Yamazaki
-1:44:41 Wagashi as Art
-1:48:15 Umami
-1:52:35 Attack of the Quadrapus Monsters!
-1:53:34 Gyoza Making
-1:54:45 Imagawayaki
-2:07:05 Sakai Takayuki Knives
-2:13:32 UW Dance Squad
-2:31:20 Tea Ceremony
-2:46:45 2020 Cherry Blossom Tour
-3:10:00 Ichi Bichi Band
Stream time: 3:24:46
Sunday, April 26th:
Sunday’s Video: https://www.facebook.com/252804314780910/videos/643601662884100/
-0:1:58 Aikido
-0:21:51 Soba Making
-0:44:16 Hidden Flavor in Japanese Cuisine
-0:48:30 Bentobako
-0:52:53 Chopsticks Culture
-0:56:53 Taiko
-1:01:57 Mixed Match
-2:37:55 Koto
-2:50:00 Farewell Shikata Ga Nai
-3:07:30 Folktales
-3:17:37 Fujima Ensemble
-3:37:07 Never Give Up!
Stream time: 4:43:12