Shofuso Cherry Blossom Festival aims to unite black and Asian communities | Lifestyle

The Japanese house of Shofuso officially opened on March 23, the beginning of the 2022 cherry blossom season, and its traditional cherry blossom festival is set to take place in person and has turned into a three-day celebration.

The 2022 Cherry Blossom Festival, known this year as the Sakura Concert Series at the Shofuso Cherry Blossom Festival, will be held at West Fairmount Park and the Horticulture Center over the weekend of April 8-10.

The festival in partnership with Parkside Neighborhood communities has been redesigned and will be different from anything they have done in the past, including highlighting local artists and using the power of music to unite people from all areas.

“Although the house has been standing since 1958, in fact Shofuso has made little effort to attract locals. And that kind of is changing now, in light of the pandemic and the incredible amount of public discourse we all have, [for instance] the aftermath of the George Floyd Uprising, as well as the anti-Asian hatred we saw, ”said Rob Boucher, deputy director of organizational culture.

The “series of sakura concerts of the Shofuso Cherry Blossom Festival” is free and open to the public. The activities will explore the intersections of Japanese and African American culture, from traditional to modern, through a series of musical performances by multiethnic musicians of hip-hop, jazz and percussion. While food and drinks will be available for purchase at the newly added beer garden, visitors are encouraged to go out and bring their own picnic supplies to gather with family and friends under the flower.

The Shofuso Japanese Cultural Center will also be open during special extended hours (11 a.m. to 7 p.m.) on festival days, but paid admission is required to visit.

In August 2021, the Society of Greater Philadelphia Japan received a Re: imagining Recovery grant from The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage and is now using these funds to restructure its approach to Japanese cultural events with the ultimate goal of becoming a more inclusive Parkside resident. deepening relations and ties between Asian American and black communities in Philadelphia.

“We need to pay more attention to how all cultural institutions perform their work. So with the “American America” society it’s a kind of shift because, historically, the people who ran Japanese homes and gardens in the early 1980s, maybe until the late ’90s, they were Americans of Japanese descent, but for the last 20 years they have become more like Japanese expats, [Japanese immigrants who recently settled in the states]as well as some other non-Japanese people, ”Bushehr said.

According to Bushehr, now that more Japanese Americans have returned to the Shofuso space, they are also seeking to interact with predominantly black Parkside residents both through culture and through collective organizational work conducted in other Japanese-American public spaces.

“For the Sakura Concert Series at the Shofuso Cherry Blossom Festival, we’re really focusing on the music,” Bushehr said. “When I approached this program and then worked with our local consultants. Music is a point of contact we all saw at once between Japanese and African Americans. “

“The importance of both jazz and hip-hop in both Japan and Japanese-American communities. I mean, it’s just part of our community. A lot of cultural exchange happens when you look at Japanese streetwear and love an introduction to a kind of American hip-hop fashion. Casio keyboard presets were some of the first leading 80s. Their bits could be completely different if you just look at the technological level. Such interesting talks have been going on for a long time, ”Bushehr said.

Every day of the rethought cherry blossom festival explores some of these connections. ”

“On Friday, April 8, we have a hip-hop show, and we have assembled a group of performers, some of whom are Americans of Japanese descent, others – African Americans who follow a similar theme. We see it as a cultural exchange, we find hip-hop as a common ground to be able to do it, ”Bushehr said.

This concert will take place from 19:00 to 22:00 in Fairmount Park, free and open to the public

“Saturday night, starting at 6pm, we have a virtuoso Japanese Hawaiian taiko performer Kenny Endo, he will be performing with his troupe. And after that we have a local artist, an artist of Nigerian descent who has been working in Philly for the last 20 years who is a graphic artist and a DJ, ”Bushehr said.

The resident artist will give a live presentation of video art during his DJ set on the projection screen.

“It will be among the cherry trees,” Bushehr said. “It takes place on Saturday night and then on Sunday, it will be a long concert from 11.00 to 16.00, which will feature both types of percussion bands. We’re going to consider mostly taiko, but we plan to work with some nearby drummers, and the headliners for Sunday’s performance are actually from the Philadelphia Jazz project. They come to honor the peace of John Coltrane. “

Coltrane debuted this work in Nagasaki, Japan, in 1966.

“So there’s a story that goes along with that,” Busher said. “He went to visit the zero site of the atomic bomb and Nagasaki, and was so shocked that, you know, he performed a song and a concert the next night.”

“Given Coltrane’s local connection to the Strawberry Mansion, we thought it would be a great opportunity to highlight this and recreate this story, especially given that April is also Philadelphia’s jazz heritage month,” Bushehr said.

The latest headliner, scheduled for Sunday, April 10, is a Japanese Jamaican reggae band from Brooklyn.

For more information and to see the full lineup, visit japanphilly.org/

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