As a part of UConn’s Spring Weekend, The Japanese Student Association hosted its third annual Sakura Matsuri festival. According to JSA member Jadyn Wu, the centuries old event celebrates the beginning of spring and the blossoming of cherry blossom trees. Wu said that the celebration usually features delicious food and family, stating “people go outside with family and friends, bring their picnic… and look for the flowers, and just to sit down by the tree and eat.” Added that the annual tradition also features carnival games.
The Student Union ballroom was beautifully covered with pink and white decorations, complete with paper cranes, balloons and live cherry trees. On one half of the ballroom, the stage was set up for performances while the remainder of the venue consisted of booths from a wide array of cultural organizations.
The traditional festival also featured several independent artists who were selling prints, bookmarks and tote bags decorated in an artistic style similar to anime. There was also another artist who used watercolors to paint how songs made her feel, adding a unique artistic touch to the event. Near her booth, there was a tarot card reader who would tell the fortunes of those in attendance. For those who wanted to immortalize the event on their Instagram, there was a photo booth complete with wigs, props and costumes.
What really stood out about the vendors was the wide variety of food available for purchase. Cultural organizations like the Lao and Thai Student Association, Vietnamese Student Association and the Indian Students Association were selling food and drink that represented various Asian cultures.
Nadejah Green, who was enjoying a scallion pancake, praised her delicious food and the festivals many vendors, stating, “They fry it right there on the pan, and it tastes really savory. They put a fish sauce on top of it just to add more flavor, and it’s made from just simple ingredients like wheat, water, and scallion.”
“They did a really good job at designing the festival this year, it’s really growing, and seeing a lot more different organizations participating is really exciting,” The fourth-semester education major added.
For those who did not want to spend money at the event, there were also many free activities. The Japanese Student Association hosted several free carnival style games in honor of the event, and they also gave out free mochi and tea samples. Groups like the Half Asian People’s Association gave out free samples of sweet Thai tea, while the 3D Printing Club gave out small 3D printed Pokémon for free as well.
The Sakura Matsuri Festival also featured several performances throughout the event. The majority of the performances were dance groups, including Alima, Illumin8, KConn, ICSA, Pi Delta Psi and Kappa Phi Lambda. There were also fantastic musical performances by UConn Taiko and Tim Siu, who played two songs on the shamisen. Finally, groups like T Huskies and UConn Kendo Club preformed martial arts routines.
Jenny Tang, an eighth semester information systems and technology major praised the many cultural performances and vendors at the festival.
“It’s great because it’s very cultural, it brings together a variety of cultural aspects. It’s a really big Asian community coming together, and it’s a great way for people to learn about the Asian community,” she said.
Lauren Brown is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.