- Cherry Blossom Festival in Dortmund
The last Sunday in March sees Germany change to summer time at 1am. Until this point, dusk falls between 5 and 6pm. But once summer time comes in, the daylight hours get longer and longer, and you suddenly find it’s still light around 8pm. In the smile of the sunshine, the flowers begin to open in unison, and you feel the coming of spring – which can only make you feel cheerful! Anyway, about 70 km (thus a one-hour car drive) from Düsseldorf, you can find the Rombergpark Botanical Garden in Dortmund. April 10th 2016 saw this garden host its first ever Cherry Blossom Festival (Kirschblütenfest). Two hundred cherry trees were planted there last year, taking the grand total to 280 - one of the largest collection of its kind in NRW (Nordrhein-Westfalen). Cherry blossoms suddenly bloom into beauty, only to see their beautiful petals fall and scatter to earth in a mere week. It is this decisiveness of action, and grace, which makes us picture the life of the samurai, and puts cherry blossom level with the chrysanthemum; loved as if it were Japan’s national flower. And so, to add further colour to the festival direct from Japan, “Land of the Cherry Blossom,” we went along to take part in a German-Japanese cultural exchange. The day saw a taiko kids’ group, flower arrangement and a kimono show offered up by the people of Düsseldorf, in addition to calligraphy and origami introductory events – literally all kinds of Japanese culture.Amid a variety of kiosks on the promenade – and in the bright, warm sunshine – a large number of locals enjoyed the festival fun while going for a stroll. And so, the festival made me realize anew how Japanese people living overseas can be appreciated as a good source of Japanese culture. I therefore came away hoping to deepen German-Japanese cultural exchanges through activities which both promote spiritual happiness and spread the message of peace.