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Sakura Days Japan Fair 2018

Sakura Days Japan Fair gave visitors a chance to experience Japan with hands-on workshops (calligraphy, origami, haiku) and amazing performances.  What a fabulous week-end!

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Several tree talks and walks were lead by Van Dusen garden volunteers. There were lots of cherry trees to talk about including the beautiful tai-haku (great white cherry).

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The winning haiku from the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival Haiku Invitational 2017 were displayed in the garden for everyone to read and enjoy.

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At the Haiku House, you could attend a workshop, try your hand at writing a haiku, make a button, or take a guided walk to the haiku rock.

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The food was a major draw.

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Outdoor demonstrations included the forging of Japanese knives by knifewear.


If you preferred to be inside, you could visit the vendors and pick up a petal mat or guide to Ornamental Cherries in Vancouver at the VCBF table.

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People gathered on the hill, sitting on petal mats, to watch the show on the cherry stage.


During her calligraphy demo,Kisyuu disappeared behind the canvas to paint the back of the canvas while the picture was slowly revealed to the audience at the front.


Hojo Hand-Crafted Samurai Armor Corps grabbed visitors’ attention as they walked to the stage to perform an elaborate play in full costumes.

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Two performers from Japan, Keita Kanazashi on the Japanese Drum and Kohei Honda on the shamisen, drew a big crowd with their amazing energy.

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Outdoor performances kept us dancing until 7 pm.

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The event ended with lantern procession from the Cherry Stage to the Visitor Centre.

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Sakura Days Japan Fair is two-day festival organized by the Japan Fair Association of Vancouver as part of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival. It took place at the Van Dusen Botanical Garden.

People who attended Saturday were able to walk over to Queen Elizabeth park to see the Sakura Illuminations.


Cherry tree talk and walk at VanDusen

Weedping cherry tree Higan at Van Dusen Garden April 7 2013

On April 7 2013, I joined the cherry talk and walk at the VanDusen botanical garden. Our guide Anne Eng has been a cherry scout for many years and is also a volunteer at the garden.

First, we visited the beni shidare trees on the Great Lawn.

Weedping cherry tree Higan at Van Dusen Garden April 7 2013

This is the view of fifteen hundred years” said Anne.  In Japan, cherry trees were growing on hillsides. People thought they were beautiful so  they uprooted the trees and brought them down closer to civilization. The VanDusen garden replicated the original location by planting the cherry trees on a hill.

Weedping cherry tree Higan at Van Dusen Garden April 7 2013

The garden has several weeping higan cherry trees which are known as beni shidare (beni means “pink”, and shidare means “weeping”).

Weedping cherry tree Higan at Van Dusen Garden April 7 2013

Did you know? Cherry trees (prunus) are members of the rose family.

Bark of a Japanese flowering cherry tree

There are two major characteristics of cherry trees:

1)     Lenticels ( “Cherry bars, stop the car!”)

If you are not sure if the trees blooming on your street are plum or cherry trees, look at the trunk.  Cherry trees have horizontal lines on the bark called “lenticels”.  (Lenticels allow gas exchange between the air and the internal tissues).

All cherry trees have lenticels“, said Anne, “but not all trees with lenticels are cherry trees.”


2)      Cherry blossoms grow in clusters called “umbels”. An umbel is when more than one flower comes out of the bud and each flower is at the end of a long stalk (like in this picture).

Great White Cherry at Van Dusen Botanical Garden April 7 2013

I was very impressed by the Great White Cherry, or prunus “Taihaku” (seen above):

1)      it has big white blossoms (5 cm)

2)      and copper color leaves (you can see the copper at the tip of the leaves in this picture)

Somei Yoshina cherry tree at Van Dusen Garden April 7 2013

On the rhododendron walk, we saw a huge somei-yoshino which is the original cherry tree from Japan.

A man from Georgia took a somei-yoshino tree back to his town, donated lots of them, and every year they have the International Cherry festival in this small town in Georgia, in March.

Somei Yoshina cherry tree at Van Dusen Garden April 7 2013

In Japan, they planted samples of somei-yoshino trees in specific location across the country. Every spring, they observe these trees. When the cherry tree has six blossoms, they declare that cherry season has begun and they report it on the news,  from the south to the north. It’s called the Cherry Wave.

Chrystanthemum cherry tree at Van Dusen Botanical Garden April 7 2013

The Chrysanthemum cherry tree was one of my favorite cherry trees in the garden.

Snow Fountain weeping cherry tree at Van Dusen Botanical Garden April 7 2013

Snow Fountain.  The name is so pretty.

Somei Yoshina cherry tree at Van Dusen Garden April 7 2013

These are the trees of your future” said Anne, when we visited the cherry trees that are not yet in bloom. The Kanzan and  Shirofugan  should be blooming in two weeks. Kanzan are the most planted cherry trees in Vancouver along with Akebono (Akebono means “daybreak”).

Shirofugan and Shigetsu will be the last cherry trees to bloom in the garden (Shirofugan blossoms grow pink, turn white, then turn pink again). So keep your eyes open.

Did you know? There are several more tree talks and walks (some them focusing on cherry trees) scheduled this month for the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival.