Dining, art, walking around town…events that let you enjoy the cherry blossoms in a variety of ways Presenting the Nihonbashi Sakura Festival. What did the creators of this event have in mind when they made it?

Dining, art, walking around town…events that let you enjoy the cherry blossoms in a variety of ways Presenting the Nihonbashi Sakura Festival. What did the creators of this event have in mind when they made it?

Held for the first time in 2014, the Nihonbashi Sakura Festival is now in its sixth year. Having become an iconic event in the area, the Sakura Festival not only includes events that let visitors enjoy food and walks around town, but features all kinds of content to build anticipation for the coming spring. Here, we tag along with the creator as we present the content of this festival. You’ll definitely want to pay a visit to Nihonbashi this spring.

This work of art, based on the motif of a “mystic tree” that serves as a marker for land routes in the desert, debuts in Japan at Nihonbashi, the starting point for roads in Japan.

The Tree of Tenere debuted in 2017 at Burning Man, a huge art and music festival held annually in the Black Rock Desert in Nevada. Symmetry Labs (SL), the creator of this piece, teamed together with Tokyo-based production company Bascule, Inc. and producer Odagaki (EMC Productions) to create a cherry tree version of the Tree of Tenere, The Tree of Light: Tomoshizakura. The Tree of Light is an enormous work of art that stands nine meters tall, with LEDs on each and every leaf that respond to sound and wind in order to produce an interactive and magical space.

At Burning Man, with its array of high-level works of art, the Tree of Tenere struck Odagaki like love at first sight, and he decided he wanted to take it to Japan. When he returned to Japan, he discussed the matter with Bascule and, since SL was also interested in expanding to Japan, the three parties soon finalized discussions for a Japanese project. The Nihonbashi Sakura Festival was chosen for the unveiling of the piece in Japan due to its high affinity on several fronts, including because the Tree of Tenere was originally a landmark for caravan routes and - as such - a symbol of hope; because Nihonbashi serves as the starting point for roads in Japan; and because of the Japanese spirit and feelings of anticipation for the coming season that cherry blossoms bring.

The complexity as well as differing business cultures of a production process spanning three countries—the US, Japan, and China, where the factories were—made it necessary to reconsider materials, design, and production process from scratch, resulting in an enormous work of art that took more time to produce than imagined. There can be hidden tribulations not found in projects done entirely within one’s own country.

The Tree of Light is the fruit of these hardships. “We had the good fortune of being able to debut in Japan with the cherry blossom motif. All kinds of unexpected things happen when you try something new, but thanks to the cherry blossom motif, our team was able to share how we wanted visitors to interact with the tree and create a direction for our creative activities. “All we could do was create something we ourselves felt was fun and amazing,” says Masayoshi Boku, president of Bascule.

This work of art incorporates a performance of lights that change in response to natural phenomena, such as sound and wind. Its magical glow moving organically in the dark of night makes people stop and stare. The debut of the Tree of Light in Japan, the cherry blossom version, will only be shown in Nihonbashi. This makes for a great spot on a leisurely spring night, so be sure to check it out.」

Experience cherry blossoms in full bloom on the promenade leading to Fukutoku Shrine.
Sakura Carpet is an interactive piece created by participants of the first nihonbashi β.

A cherry blossom installation produced by a team that won an excellence award at nihonbashi β’s first exhibition, “Future Noren Exhibit”. (See here for an article on their 2018 activities) The concept, decided after trial and error, is “an ever-blooming cherry tree” that welcomes the coming spring and creates promising motivation. The “time” of cherry blossoms blooming over countless years from the past to the present is expressed through stacking layers. When the sensor detects a visitor’s movements, the Sakura Carpet, which depicts cherry blossoms over a space spanning sixteen meters, creates an illusion of light and sound, offering an experience that makes it feel as though you are making the cherry blossoms bloom.
An article featuring interviews with the creators will be published next week.

See, Photograph, Eat.
Mandarin Oriental Tokyo’s Sakura Menu.

Mandarin Oriental Tokyo offers popular products every year at the Sakura Festival. Together with about 190 restaurants in the area that are participating again in this year’s “Sakura Menu Walk”, they will be displaying beautiful cherry-blossom themed products at the Nihonbashi Sakura Yatai (Food Stalls) on the last Saturday and Sunday of March.

When creating the menu for the event, executive chef Daniele Cason first came back to the purpose and concept of the event.
For the menu served at the Sakura Festival this year, he imagined Edozakura-Dori Street in full bloom, and then expressed this through color and ingredients. The menu was also created so that people would feel the anticipation and joy they feel when they see cherry blossoms, and would want to take a photograph.
There are many items on the beautiful and gentle Sakura Menu. You will definitely want to taste this.

Recommending the biggest draw of the Sakura Festival: the Nihonbashi Sakura Yatai.
Enjoy the best flavors of Nihonbashi for two days only.

In addition to this, there’s tons to see at the Sakura Festival. The event we recommend the most is the Nihonbashi Sakura Yatai, held on the last Saturday and Sunday of March. Famous restaurants in Nihonbashi join together to create special menu items for two days only. This is a great chance to enjoy the best flavors Nihonbashi has to offer.

Among these are Baked Kurikara Eel and Tuna Sushi, collaborative menu items made by four unagi restaurants (Oedo, Nihonbashi Idumoya, Takashimaya, and Isesada) and four sushi restaurants (Shigenozushi, Yoshinozushi Honten, Janoichi Honten, and Funazushi) that you’ll definitely want to try.

An exclusive art and music event in April that lets you enjoy nights in Nihonbashi.
Appearing at Sakura Music Night is Shuta Hasunuma and Kaho Nakamura.

Sakura Photo Session and Sakura Music Night will also be hosted on April 5th.
Sakura Photo Session is a commemorative photograph service provided by photographer Junya Igarashi. This is a great way to capture positive memories of ringing in the new year.
At Sakura Music Night, enjoy a special one-night performance by popular artists Shuta Hasunuma and Kaho Nakamura. Tickets are already sold out, but there will be three locations in the Nihonbashi area broadcasting the performance live, so you can still enjoy a public viewing. This magical concert of music and light is a must-see.

【Public Viewing Spots】
・Beer Café Brugse Zot (2F Coredo Muromachi 2)
・Grip Tavern (2F Coredo Muromachi 2)
・Wired Café News (2F Nihonbashi Mitsui Tower)

The Nihonbashi Sakura Festival, which lets you enjoy cherry blossoms and the Nihonbashi area, lasts until April 7th. Be sure to check it out.

Author: Aya Sakamoto/ Photography: Daisuke Okamura

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