Taiko with Toni | Photo Credit: Cami Shigaya

“All the hard work is well worth the effort to celebrate and share our Japanese American heritage. The festival highlights the significant role the temple and Sakura Foundation play in celebrating the cultural diversity of Denver and the broader region.”

Cherry Blossom Festival Volunteer

Coloradans are a hearty bunch: They did not let a rain-filled forecast prevent them from enjoying a weekend filled with Japanese and Japanese American (JA) culture at the 47th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival in downtown Denver! On June 22 and 23, festival-goers of all ages and backgrounds came out in full force to see colorful entertainment on the Live Stage, visit the 50+ marketplace vendors and nonprofit information booths, make a craft in the free indoor Kids’ Area, chat with artists inspired by the Japanese culture and, of course, taste the amazing food prepared with care by sangha members of Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple (TS/DBT). Consul-General of Japan Midori Takeuchi opened the festival with a kind greeting to festival attendees. The supportive sponsors, in-kind donors and community and festival partners also made valuable contributions to the event.

For the past four years, Sakura Foundation and TS/DBT have collaborated to bring the Cherry Blossom Festival (“Sakura Matsuri” in Japanese) to life in Sakura Square. “The festival is near and dear to the hearts of all the members the TS/DBT sangha,” says TS/DBT Board President Chad Nitta.

“We have as many as four generations of families volunteering side-by-side. Some volunteers have been helping for five decades! Not only is the festival a critical fundraiser for the Temple, it is an amazing opportunity to share our JA culture and Buddhist teachings with our surrounding community. The Temple’s partnership with Sakura Foundation and its leadership in attracting vendors and stage entertainment has brought the festival to new heights in terms of attendance. We could not be more excited to continue to expand our offerings and to ensure that the JA culture will continue to be vibrant throughout Colorado!”

Sakura Foundation Executive Director Gary Yamashita added, “Our mission, to sustain the Tri-State/Denver Buddhist Temple and celebrate Japanese American heritage, culture and community, provides the guidance and motivation to partner with the Temple each year to host the festival. It is truly a team effort between Sakura Foundation and the Temple in honoring our Japanese heritage and cultural past, but striving to keep our traditions fresh and relevant for current and future generations.”

The continued success of the festival is credited to the many faithful and new festival attendees and, most importantly, the vital volunteers who work countless hours to make the festival happen.

Plans for the 48th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival are already in the works! Stay informed by liking the Cherry Blossom Festival Facebook page and by visiting CherryBlossomDenver.org. See you in June 2020!

“It’s hard to express how much the Cherry Blossom Festival means to me. I can’t remember a summer without the festival and I can’t imagine my life without the many fond memories and experiences I’ve collected over the years. I volunteer in order to give this same opportunity to my kids and the greater Denver community.”

Cherry Blossom Festival Volunteer