I attended the 2010 Seattle Cherry Blossom and Japanese Culture Festival with my sister's family. This year my sister and niece asked if I would dress them up in yukata! My sister, Nicole, had worn a yukata before (mini-skirt goth style!), but this was the first time for my niece, Dakota. I did not dress up in yukata this year since I am big-pregnant and I don't have a heko-obi to wear with my maternity yukata. I had a good time dressing up the girls and watching their experience with wearing yukata.
I arrived early morning to dress the girls up. The family watched intrigued over the dressing process! Dakota's uchiwa says "matsuri", "festival" in Japanese. Both of their yukata were purchased from Shiga's Imports in Seattle, a shop I reviewed on this blog earlier. Nicole's purple yukata was bought brand-new for $15 a few years back. Dakota's was purchased for $20 on my recent trip to Seattle when I wrote about the shop.
A back view of their obi with their uchiwa tucked in the back.
Walking to the festival hand-in-hand with Dakota's dad, Scott. He looks like a lucky man with two lovely ladies!
The Cherry Blossom Festival is held every year at Seattle Center because it is the home to thousands of cherry trees donated to the city of Seattle from Japan. As we walked to the festival, we could see the Space Needle framed in the branches of the cherry trees. Last year all the cherry blossoms had already fallen off of the trees, so we were lucky to be able to view the blossoms this year.
We started the day off at the Center House where the main stage was holding performances. It is also where the food court is, so we got a bite to eat first! We weren't aware that they were selling Japanese food in the Fisher Pavilion, so we missed out on that... Instead we had some burgers and burritos while taiko drums played on the stage. In the background of this pic you can see a toddler girl in a pink yukata. She was one of 2 other's that I saw dressed in yukata... I was sad to see so few people dress up! Nicole and Dakota had been approached many times by people asking about their outfits and where they could get one!
There is a booth that dresses people in yukata so that people can take pictures of themselves looking Japanese-y. Never a fan of this booth, they do a terrible job. The umbrella the girl is holding actually has a very large hole in it.
After eating, we went to the Fisher Pavilion, where most of the cultural displays were at. We first admired the many Ikebana flower arrangements.
A beautiful set of armor. At this display was a nice katana as well, and a set-up to demonstrate blade sharpening.
There were booths set up for children (or adults acting like kids) to try their hand at games and skills, such as origami or Japanese calligraphy. We waited for a long time to try calligraphy, but people are rude and they kept cutting in front of us. We played with a traditional toy, called kendama. I took a video of the girls playing with the kendama. Dakota catches the ball at the beginning of the video, and Nicole near the end.
There were kimono dressing demonstrations. While we didn't see the demonstration, we did get to look at the dressed dress-forms. A houmongi pictured above.
A furisode. Some uchikake on display. After seeing all the displays in the Fisher Pavilion, we went outside and enjoyed the beautiful International Fountain. This is one of the coolest fountains I've seen, set at the bottom of a giant bowl with powerful water jets and even fog effects.
Kids and adults loved getting soaked on such a beautiful day, or playing games of running from the random jets of water. You can hear Scotty at the end of the video, "haha! Suckers!"
Before the day was done, we definitely wanted to get some good pictures of the girls in their outfits under the cherry trees. Here is the result of our photo session:
The necklaces the girls are wearing were prizes won at a game of jan-ken-pon (rock, paper, scissors). The necklaces were made for the festival attendees by residents of a Japanese-American senior home.
The paving stones for the sidewalk under the cherry trees are made of tiles commemorating donations, memories of people who have passed, or drawing made by children. I spotted one that says "konnichi wa".
And finally I wanted to catch a video of the girls simply walking around in their yukata.
If you've attended the Cherry Blossom Festival, I'd love to hear about your experience! Or any other events in your local area, around the country or around the world. I'd love to share your stories of cultural events or even random dress-up days!