Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Serving the campus of the University of Alabama since 1894

The Crimson White

Sakura Festival displays Japanese culture

The 25th annual Sakura Festival will take place throughout the month of March around the Tuscaloosa community. The festival highlights Japanese culture through music, art and education.  With the help of the Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission, the festival has become a part of the Tuscaloosa culture during the past 25 years.

Events include a haiku poetry competition, Hina Matsuri Doll exhibit, movie and cuisine education, performances from various music ensembles, an art show and more.

University Mall in Tuscaloosa will host the majority of the events, and the last week of March will wrap up with an art show in the mall. On Saturday March 26 University Mall will serve as the stage for the final performances of the festival.

Also housing the various shows and readings throughout March are the Tuscaloosa Library and the Ferguson Center. Each location will offer both educational opportunities and hands-on learning experiences of Japanese culture.

According to the Capstone International Center, the Sakura Festival offers opportunities for University students and the Tuscaloosa community to be introduced to Japanese culture.


Art Contest with Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission

The Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission has been working hand-in-hand with the Sakura Festival to raise awareness and educate others about the culture of Tuscaloosa’s sister cities, Narashino, Japan, and Schorndorf, Germany.

The art contest allows Tuscaloosa children from kindergarten through 12th grade to compete with students from these cities.

“The art contests, and events like it, help us to open our door, making us a more global city,” said Lisa Keyes, executive director of the Tuscaloosa Sister Cities Commission. “And the Sister Cities program makes every city a better place, worldwide.”

The art will be on display at University Mall, as well as the Ferguson Center, the last week of March.


Haiku Contest

Haiku poetry captures the literary style of the Japanese culture, and through the Sakura Festival’s haiku contest, students from grades 1 to 12 in the Tuscaloosa area will be competing against students from Tuscaloosa’s sister cities. Adults may also compete in the competition.

The deadline is March 8, and applications may be found online at the Sakura festival website:


Matsuri in the Mall

University Mall will feature art shows, music performances and cultural displays during the last week of March for the Sakura Festival.

“Students often find that their favorite event is the sumo wrestler,” said a representative from the Capstone International Center. “They’ll pull kids on stage and have fun with them, but they aren’t afraid to throw down some college kids.”

The exhibit at the mall will also include opportunities to purchase bonsai plants and ichibana flower arrangements.

The opening performance of the March 26 Matsuri in the Mall exhibit will showcase a group of young violinists from the UA Community Music School.

“While the music the children are going to play will not be ‘Japanese music,’ the students have been trained in the Japanese Suzuki style,” said Jane Weidel, coordinator for the UA Community Music School.

This style means that the children, ages 7-12, will be performing their work through memorization.

“This instruction teaches the student ear training before adding the complexity of note reading,” Weidel said. “Some students start learning the violin before they can even read, so it really makes sense that the ear leads the way.”

The group is led by Yang Zhao through the University Community Group, a mechanism allowing both students and members of the Tuscaloosa community to study for personal knowledge and gain rather than school credit.

More information about community music programs can be found at


Sakura Festival at the Tuscaloosa Public Library

The Tuscaloosa Library will also open its doors to the festival, welcoming groups of University performers and storytellers.

The Nozomi Daiko Taiko Drum Ensemble will perform March 9 at 10 a.m. in the Weaver Bolden Library, March 15 at 10 a.m. at the Main Branch of the Tuscaloosa Library and March 24 at 10 a.m. at Brown Library.

The ensemble consists of both community members and students and uses drums and masks to tell stories of the Japanese culture.

This event is free and open to the public, and students are encouraged to attend.


Hina Matsuri Exhibit and Doll Festival

On campus, 121-F B.B. Comer Hall at the Capstone International Center will showcase traditional and historical Japanese dolls. Many of the dolls have been passed down through generations and are available for public viewing throughout the month.

According to the Capstone International Center, some students in fashion retail and apparel classes have incorporated the dolls into their studies, creating projects and outfits to coincide with the festival.


More to Discover