Wednesday 19 September 2018 9:31pm
A huge crowd attended this year's Japanese Hanami festival, held under the cherry trees outside the University Clocktower building last Friday afternoon. Photos: Sharron Bennett.
The University’s annual Japanese cherry blossom viewing festival of Hanami became an international event last Friday, with a huge turn-out of people from many nationalities.
Haruko Stuart of the Japanese programme of the Department of Languages and Cultures has been organising the celebration under the cherry trees outside the University’s Clocktower building for nine years, and in conjunction with the Dunedin-Otaru Sister City Society for the past three. She says this year it was bigger than ever before.
“We had more than 300 people joining the event and I could see people from Malaysia, China, India, Korea and from European and other countries,” Mrs Stuart says. “It was huge.
The number of the turnout was the biggest ever, the nationalities that participated in the event were the biggest ever, the number of sushi was the biggest ever! The weather was the best, too, so everything was the best!”
"The number of the turnout was the biggest ever, the nationalities that participated in the event were the biggest ever, the number of sushi was the biggest ever! The weather was the best, too, so everything was the best!"
Hanami is a long-standing Japanese tradition of welcoming spring. Also known as the “cherry blossom festival,” this annual celebration is about appreciating the temporal beauty of nature.
“I organise a Japanese event because I am Japanese and we have such beautiful sakura cherry blossom trees on campus, so it happens to be a Japanese event, but it doesn’t matter which country’s event it is, I just want to show how important it is to appreciate other cultures,” Mrs Stuart says.
As well as a picnic, taiko drumming and koto music are part of the annual tradition. This year there was also a performance of Kendo and Naginata martial arts.
“It is getting bigger and bigger every year, and I am thinking about planning the biggest event next year since next year will be our 10th anniversary!”
Check our some more images of a beatiful festival, thanks to Photographer Sharron Bennett:
The crowd glimpsed through the beautiful cherry trees.
A group of talented taiko drummers entertained the guests.
Associate Head of Aquinas College Brian Satake and his five-year-old son Marcus.