Friendship Blossoms at Sakura Festival

By Clancie Moffett in News

Afternoon light pours through rough tree branches alive with pink petals. A shade of sweetness, this whimsical canopy acts as a message from Mother Nature.

Spring is finally here.

Clark hosts its annual Sakura Festival today at 1 p.m in the Gaiser Student Center.

Clark first hosted the event in 2006 under the boughs of the Shirofugen cherry trees planted on campus.The festival celebrates the friendship established in 1995 between Vancouver and her sister-city Joyo, Japan.

Bob Knight, president of Clark College, and Mayor Tim Leavitt will speak at the ceremony, and the Clark College Women’s Ensemble will perform.

A kimono fashion show and a dance performance by the Japanese Club are among the activities in the Gaiser Student Center from 2 p.m. to 4. The Portland Taiko Drum Group is returning to perform at the festival also.

The festival is open to students and the general public, with attendance ranging from 150 to 200 people.

Michiyo Okuhara, teacher of the first year Japanese language class, said she visited the daycare center on campus and showed the children how to put on kimonos, a Japanese traditional garment. They will be the models for the fashion show.

The Japanese Club will perform the same Yosakoi dance they performed last term during the International Education Week, according to Okuhara.

“Students are working hard to make this event successful,” Okuhara said.

Tables in the Gaiser Student Center will display Japanese calligraphy and origami with activities, and the Rotary Club will set up decorations, according to Okuhara. The Study Abroad Program will also have a display table featuring their memory board with photos of students who have traveled to Japan.

Sakura cookies made by Clark’s Bakery will be served along with tea.

In past years, the festival ceremony has been held under the Shirofugen cherry trees planted on campus.

John Kageyama, president of America Kotobuki Electronics, gifted the trees to Vancouver in 1990 for Washington’s 100th anniversary of statehood. Now they symbolize the friendship between Vancouver and Joyo, Japan.

“It really connects the city of Vancouver and Clark with Joyo,” said Michelle Golder the festival coordinator. “It nourishes what we’ve been building upon year after year.”

After Kageyama gave Vancouver the cherry trees, over 300 members of the community, including representatives of business and industry, helped plant the trees on Clark’s main campus in celebration of Arbor Day and Earth Day, according to clark.edu.

The first tree was dedicated by Kageyama, former mayor Bruce Hagensen and former Washington Governor Booth Gardner, according to clark.edu.

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