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White Plains Festival Celebrates Japanese Culture

WHITE PLAINS, N.Y. — White Plains residents of all ages can learn about Japanese culture and tradition at Sunday's Cherry Blossom Festival.

The 13th annual fair will feature an afternoon of such activities as Japanese music, dance, song, storytelling, games and crafts at Turnure Park on Lake Street (off North Broadway).

The event began in 2000 when a resident wanted to see more Japanese cherry trees in the city like those planted by the White Plains Beautification Foundation, said Fran Croughan of the city's Recreation and Parks Department. The resident approached the Recreation and Parks Department, which agreed and began holding the festival at Lower Tibbits Park.

Soon after, Niji No Kai, a Japanese-American nonprofit, began donating cherry trees. Eventually it began coordinating the event, and in 2011 it used the proceeds to benefit the Japanese Disaster Relief Fund. Last year, it raised $10,000 from all of its projects, including the Cherry Blossom Festival, Croughan said.

This year, proceeds will also go to plant five cherry trees in Turnure Park.

The event moved to Turnure Park when it outgrew Lower Tibbits Park. To date, 85 cherry trees have been planted, and Niji No Kai hopes to help the city reach 100.

"It's just a spectacular sight," Croughan said. "On a tangible level, they've brought the cherry trees to White Plains. From a cultural perspective, it's a well-organized event, from the entertainment to the demonstrations to the food and activities. Whether you're of Japanese or American descent, it really provides you with a glimpse into their culture."

The event will be held from noon to 5 p.m. For additional information, call 914-422-1339.

Some of the events include:

  • Origami and calligraphy workshop — Japanese School and Japanese Education Center
  • Kimono demonstration — Japanese School and Japanese Education Center
  • Yo-yo fishing
  • Goldfish scooping — YMCA Tokyo Frost Valley
  • Tea ceremony — Omote Senke Sado School
  • Picture story show — Taeko Okamoto and Friends
  • Japanese garden exhibition — Takanashi Landscape, Inc.

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