Tomorrow, Bemis Great Hall will transform into a Japanese party to celebrate the annual Sakura Festival, with at least 80 excited Colorado College students ready to eat, dance, and sing traditional songs.
This is the third annual Sakura Festival. Current Japanese Cultural Program Coordinator Ryota Sakurai is in his first year at CC,, but the festival started three years ago and has been held each spring ever since. The festival celebrates the coming of spring and usually coincides with the peak bloom of the cherry blossom trees.
“I am looking forward to the student performances at the festival,” Sakurai said.
The festival will feature students dancing the Soran Buchee—a traditional dance that was also performed at the Chinese New Year celebration in February. Other students will sing “Butterfly,” the theme song of “Dijimon,” an anime show that was popular during Sakurai’s childhood. Additionally, they will screen the student production of “Conan”—an adaptation of a popular anime show. The movie is spoken in Japanese, but will be shown with English subtitles.
“I watched the show in real time during the late 1990s, and I never imagined that we would still be watching it today,” Sakurai said.
Kon Aoki ‘21 has been preparing for the festival this whole semester. He will perform a few traditional songs on the guitar during the celebration.
“This will be my first time being involved in an event like this,” Aoki said. “Sakurai and I have been in touch for a while now, and he asked if I would be interested in performing at the festival.”
On top of performances, the event will feature many traditional Japanese dishes, such as rice balls, yaki soba (a popular noodle dish), and sweet bean pancakes. There will also be many varieties of tea to drink.
Sakurai and several students started planning this year’s Sakura Festival during Block 5. They gathered in the Asian Languages House for dinner and a program planning session, some of which continued through Blocks 6 and 7 as the event got closer. In addition to using the common space in the house to plan, 13 students and two CPCs—Sakurai and Chinese CPC Huimeng Zhou—live in the house. Outside the house, there is a Japanese garden that was installed in 2003.
Throughout the year, Sakurai and Zhou have planned and helped students plan many cultural events for Elf House residents. Some activities have included a trip to the Denver Art Museum and lunch at Domo—a traditional Japanese restaurant in Denver—a game night, and origami and calligraphy lessons. Sakurai also hopes to have a Boba tea-making event where they will make their own tea and then compare it to tea bought from a restaurant downtown. Students who lived in the house this year will be at the festival to present and answer questions about their experience in the house this year.
“I’m hoping to meet new people and have fun,” Aoki said.
The Sakura Festival is on April 27 in Bemis Great Hall from 1–3 p.m. The event is free for CC students, and no tickets are required.