Monday, April 16, 2018

You're Invited To The 2018 Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival Saturday April 21, Japanese Cultural Performances, Fair, Food, Tea Ceremony & Picnic - It's The Prettiest Time Of Year

It's the prettiest time of the year on Roosevelt Island when the Cherry Blossoms bloom.

The annual Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) Cherry Blossom Festival takes place this Saturday, April 21.
The schedule is as follows:
South Point Park
11:00 am: Tea Ceremony

West Promenade across from Cornell Tech
11:00 am: Community Picnics (food vendors available)

Four Freedoms Park

12:30 pm Opening Remarks and Performances

Shamisen (Kicho Kai) Japanese String Ensemble

Japanese classical Dance (IchiFuji-kai Dance Association)

Koto (Masayo Ishigure and Koto Shamisen Ensemble)

The Molice

Japanese blues (Kayo Yoshioka of Neo blues maki)

Japanese Folk Dances (RIJA Yosakoi Dancers)

Community Folk Dance Lesson (sponsored by MSTDA)

Japanese Taiko Drummers (Soh Daiko)

Gallery RIVAA 527 Main Street

12:00 - 3:00 pm Japanese Cultural Fair (kimono try-on, origami fishing game; craft with kids sponsored by RI Parents Network; hat making and painting sponsored by RIVAA)

Here are some scenes from 2017 Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival.

UPDATE 4:45 PM - Roosevelt Island Operating Corp (RIOC) Public Information Officer Alonza Robertson adds:
Thousands are expected to pack several Roosevelt Island parks this coming Saturday, April 21 for the 2018 Cherry Blossom Festival which will feature a Japanese cultural fair, a tea ceremony, music, dance and food.

This annual free event was first organized by the Roosevelt Island Residents Association (RIRA) in the wake of the 2011 tsunami and earthquake that hit northern Japan. That spring, the group joined with the Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation (RIOC), the Japanese Association of Roosevelt Island and the Roosevelt Island Visual Arts Association (RIVAA) to dedicate a grove of cherry blossoms in a display of solidarity for the Japanese people. Today there are more than 600 Japanese cherry trees planted on the Island, the largest single collection in New York City.

The festival’s schedule is as follows:

Southpoint Park
11 a.m. Tea Ceremony - The traditional Japanese tea ceremony, which is a symbol of peace, harmony and happiness, involves the ceremonial preparation and presentation of matcha or powdered green tea.

West Promenade across from Cornell Tech
11 a.m. Community picnics (food vendors will also be available).

FDR Four Freedoms Park
12:30 p.m. - Opening remarks by Masaru Sato, deputy consul general Consulate General of Japan in New York, New York State Assemblywoman Rebecca Seawright, Manhattan Borough President Gale Brewer, New York City Councilman Ben Kallos, Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation President Susan Rosenthal and Jeffrey Escobar, RIRA president, among others.

12:45 p.m. - Traditional Japanese folk songs by the Kicho Kai Japanese String Ensemble. The group, also known as the Happy Butterfly Group, is comprised of students of the late Kiharu Nakamura, who was a famous geisha in her earlier life. The members maintain Nakamura’s spirit by playing the shamisen music she taught them.

1:15 p.m. – Dance performance by the IchiFuji-kai Dance Association. Founded in 1961, IchiFuji-kai is one of the few Japanese cultural organizations that performs purely classical Japanese dance in full costumes.

1:55 p.m. - Performance by the Miyabi Koto Shamisen Ensemble, a New York-based group founded and headed by accomplished musician Masayo Ishigure and consists of members of the Sawai Koto Academy which is one of the United States’ most prominent schools for contemporary koto and shamisen music.

2:40 p.m. - Music performance by indie rock band The Molice. This female-fronted trio recently released a new six-track EP entitled, “Signs.” The Molice have a unique musical style that incorporates elements from some of rock’s most influential bands, such as The Police, The Doors, and The Pixies.

3:20 p.m. – Neo Blues Maki performance: Led by vocalist Kayo Yoshioka, this band's unique contemporary approach to old school Japanese soul music has been a New York City festival-circuit favorite since 2009.

3:50 p.m. - RIJA Yosakoi Dancers

4:15 p.m. - Community folk dance lesson, sponsored by the Main Street Theatre and Dance Alliance.

4:40 p.m. - Soh Daiki taiko drummers; this group was founded in 1979 as the first East Coast taiko drumming group under the guidance of the New York Buddhist Church.

Gallery RIVAA
12:00 - 3:00 p.m. - Japanese Cultural Fair

Visitors are encouraged to take the iconic Roosevelt Island Tram, the new NYC Ferry Astoria line, or the F-train to Roosevelt Island, and then walk or take the Island’s free Red Bus to the events.
UPDATE 4/20 - I took a Cherry Blossom Tree walk today along the West Promenade next to the East River and Cornell Tech campus. Come along.