You are invited to the Sydney Cherry Blossom Festival, a giddy 10 day celebration of the meeting of Japanese and Australian cultures, which tracks the fleeting bloom period of the Cherry Blossom trees.
Action kicks off on Friday 17 August with an exclusive VIP yozakura event (night-time Cherry Blossom viewing). With music the universal language, Fuji Rock Festival favourites and Japanese ABBA tribute band “Abban” will perform, before a night of ABBA inspired Karaoke.
“ABBA makes everyone dance, sing and feel totally happy,” band member Yu Otsuka said, who channels Anni-Frid on stage. “Music makes life worth living. It really is ‘Thank you for the music.’”
Then the gates of the Japanese Gardens will be thrown open for the first of two weekends of hanami (18-19 August and 25-26 August), the thousand year old Japanese tradition of flower viewing.
In recognition of the Japanese Garden’s proximity to Duck River, an important sacred site for Aboriginal Darug women, each hanami will open at 11am with a welcoming ceremony by a local Darug elder and a musical performance combining the thunder of Taiko drums and the low pitched rumble of digeridoos.
Afterwards the warriors of Australian sumo will do battle at Stadium Sumo. The Australian Sumo Federation is hosting three demonstration matches per day as part of the hanami weekends and on select days during the week.
John Trail, President of Australian Sumo Federation and a former Grand Champion who fought under the name Chiyonofuji (The Wolf), explains the allure of the sport to an Australian.
“I was intrigued and mesmerised from when I first discovered Sumo on Wide World of Sports,” Mr Trail said. “When I moved to Japan I did my best to get immersed at every opportunity.”
“The first time I put on a mawashi I could feel the magic of sumo’s 2000 year old history. I love the rituals, vibrant colours and ancient traditions.”
“I was initially drawn to the spectacle but it was the physical aspect of sumo that I enjoyed the most. The hits we take are similar to a car accident at 60km per hour but when the adrenaline kicks in, it’s not so painful.”
Trail finds parallels with the ancient sport and Australia’s modern egalitarian values. “Sumo is a merit based system so only the best rise to the top.”
If all that combat at Stadium Sumo leave you a little worse for wear, freshen up at Hello Kitty’s Beauty Bar. Get a free Hello Kitty inspired make-over or pose for a picture with Hello Kitty beneath the blossoms.
Hello Kitty's historic visit is part of a growing trend of international visitors travelling to Sydney for the Cherry Blossom Festival.
For more details visit cumberland.nsw.gov.au/sydney-cherry-blossom-festival.