Virtual Cherry Blossom Festival 2021

Sadly, we were unable to have a cherry blossom festival in person this year.  However, some of our members and community partners have put together pre-recorded content featuring a few of our favorite festival activities.  Here's a short intro greeting from Bethlehem Mayor Bob Donchez.  Scroll down to see videos on making delicious onigiri (rice balls) and mochi (rice cake) as well as instructions for some lovely calligraphy.

As Mayor Donchez points out, although we can't gather for a group celebration this year, the blossoms are open for business this week and can safely be enjoyed in the outdoors!  The trees are best enjoyed with a homemade picnic lunch, or takeout from one of our local Japanese restaurants, such as The Other Fish, 24 East, Rakkii Ramen, and Kumo Sushi!

One of our top sellers at the festival grill station is homemade onigiri.  These traditional hand-shaped rice balls are easy to make at home if you just follow these instructions.  Pack a few to munch on for an outdoor snack as the petals fall gracefully around you.

What's another great way to enjoy rice?  Why, taking your giant wooden mallet and pounding it into a soft, tender dessert cake of course!

The traditional art of Japanese calligraphy is another popular event at our festival.  One of our great community partners, Olympus Asian CAN, has made this video showing you how to write "sakura matsuri" (cherry blossom festival) in beautiful kanji characters.  If you have a watercolor brush handy, or even just a ballpoint pen, give it a try at home!  (click the little music note in the bottom corner to unmute)

​​The festival takes place around the time our sakura (cherry blossom) trees surrounding city hall are in bloom, which historically occurs in early to mid April. We try to schedule the festival for the second or third Saturday of the month.  At our festival, you can:

  • Participate in a tea ceremony

  • Try your hand at the ancient art of calligraphy

  • Create Japanese origami

  • Sample some great Japanese festival food

  • Pound rice into a sweet treat with a giant wooden mallet

  • Have your picture taken in a kimono or yukata

  • And more!

We hope to once again have Shumei of America attend our Festival and bring their taiko drumming group from the Shumei center in Lyons Station, PA.  Their thundering Japanese drums were a smash hit last year and we sincerely hope to have them with us again in the future!  Check out their Facebook page for more info if you want to play Japanese taiko drums, or if have an interest in natural agriculture or spiritual healing:

Shumei PA



Stop by to enjoy these activities and experience Japanese culture! Be sure to check your local paper or this website for announcements about the next festival.