Cherry Blossom / Sakura Festival

In traditional Japanese thought, the time of ohanami, or viewing of the cherry blossoms, reminds one of the paradoxically fleeting yet enduring nature of life, which is symbolized in the single moment when a cherry blossom petal detaches itself to float earthward.  In contemporary Japan, friends joyfully gather whenever the cherry trees, called sakura, blossom.

Ohanami is delightful on the UA campus at the corner of University Boulevard and Stadium Drive.  Takemine Mochizuki of Narashino City donated the cherry trees at Shelton State Community College, as well as those in the Narashino Grove of Lurleen Wallace Boulevard.  Also, you can view the lovely cherry blossoms at the UA Arboretum, the Birmingham Botanical Gardens, and from Interstate 20/59 just east of Skyland Boulevard.

Each year, the CIC, along with the sponsors and participants, holds a Sakura Festival in early spring.  The 30th annual Sakura Festival was held on April 9, 2016 at Midtown Mall in Tuscaloosa.  The program included a null kumdo sword demonstration, karate demonstration, taiko drumming and Okinawan traditional dance  The public was able to learn calligraphy, origami, participate in a Japanese tea ceremony, learn about our sister city, Narashino, and participate in other activities to learn more about Japanese culture.

The 2019 Sakura / Cherry Blossom Festival will be March 23.

Please join us at the Tuscaloosa River Market to learn about Japanese culture and celebrate the beginning of spring!

Please participate in the Haiku contest by submitting your original works by March 1, 2019 using the Haiku Entry Form.

2019 Haiku Contest Winners

Theme: Imagine/Kokoro ni egaku

English Category

Adult – First Place – Valentina Ranaldi-Adams
cherry blossoms. . .
the robin’s duet
with a blue jay

Adult – Second Place – Goran Gatalica
spring haze-
cherry petals spread
so quietly

Adult – Third Place – Mary Sella
the cool sand shifts-
imagine what lies beyond
the horizon

Adult – Honorable Mention – Michael Virga
the carpenter-sun
pulling all together

Adult – Honorable Mention – Goran Gatalica
imagining bloom. . .
in my mother’s garden
bird cacophony

Grades 1-3 – First Place – Evelyn Wyatt
See the owl dancing
Friends are gathering near him
They can hoot along

Grades 1-3 – Second Place – Arden Brewer
playing with nice friends
riding our bikes in the sun
with my small brother

Grades 1-3 – Third Place – Nigel Haren
Kangaroos bouncing
Splashing in the blue water
Swimming with dolphins

Grades 1-3 – Honorable Mention – Snyder Clarke
Grass of vibrant green
Swings in the waves of summer
Tarp over the earth

Grades 1-3 – Honorable Mention – Emory Turnley
Going past the clouds
Drifting through the universe
Little fear I feel

Grades 4-6 – First Place – Sara Naylor
caresses the mind of man
bringing lovely thoughts

Grades 4-6 – Second Place – Sara Naylor
The mind’s work
of astounding thoughts
powers soul

Grades 4-6 – Third Place – Sara Naylor
let your mind wander the streams
of mentality

Grades 7-12 – First Place – Abby Samples
Looming sunflowers
Caress heads of white lilies
At start of the storm

Grades 7-12 – Second Place – Fletcher Canup
Streams ponder their paths-
apart, they find each other
to form something more

Grades 7-12 – Third Place – Ava Deas
Vivid rose bushes
Carelessly drain subdued hues
From nearby flora

Grades 7-12 – Honorable Mention – Jaelei Mosley
He uses his hands.
to make a floating rainbow.
What a funny sponge.

Grades 7-12 – Honorable Mention – Caleb Floyd
Layered clouds impress
Until bright sunlight shines through
Ridding every shadow


Japanese Category

Adult – First Place – Masako Fukuhara
Lying in a hospital bed, I move two hand mirrors against each other looking for traces of spring outside the window.

Adult – Second Place – Eru Hinata
A shower of cherry blossoms. In my wheelchair, I would want to dance with them.

Adult – Third Place – Fumiko Tanaka
Buds on winter trees make me think of my children. Light enters into my heart.

Grades 1-3 – First Place – Maho Mimaki
When we add his arms and legs, the Snowman goes sledding.

Grades 1-3 – Second Place – Mei Nakamura
New Year’s sunrise. Even the thickest clouds were brightened.

Grades 1-3 – Third Place – Koiro Isomae
Wind chimes start crying, “It’s so crazily hot!”

Grades 4-6 – First Place – Tonami Koga
Cherry blossoms dancing. I wonder where this wind will go.

Grades 4-6 – Second Place – Yuri Iwakura
After the rain, I saw a rainbow bridge built over there.

Grades 4-6 – Third Place – Rion Oda
My New Year’s dream: I see myself in a white nurse uniform ten years from now.

Grades 7-12 – First Place – Mika Sakairi
Cicadas stop singing. Time keeps moving forward, leaving me behind.

Grades 7-12 – Second Place – Satoru Kubozono
Young green leaves in Kyoto. The image of the Golden Pavilion mirrored on the pond.

Grades 7-12 – Third Place – Yurika Iwata
On the pond in the Month of Water (June), the Golden Pavilion floats.