Cherry Blossom Return Celebration

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A celebration of Japanese culture in Dunedin is blooming again now that Covid-19 restrictions have largely subsided.

University of Otago language and culture professor Haruko Stuart said she was very happy that yesterday’s hanami (flower viewing) celebration took place after two years of cancellations due to of Covid-19.

The last time the event took place in Dunedin was in 2019, which marked the 10th anniversary of the city’s celebration and attracted around 400 people, Ms Stuart said.

About 200 people braved the cold yesterday to enjoy a slice of Japanese culture, including taiko drumming and sushi.

Ms Stuart said the past two years had been difficult for students, who had seen many events canceled due to the pandemic.

She hopes students who attend the event will remember it as one of the highlights of their college experience.

In Japan, celebrations often involved drinking sake, which was not possible in Dunedin as the celebrations were held on campus.

People often brought picnics and gathered wherever there were sakura (cherry blossoms), including some places famous for their blossoms, Ms Stuart said.

The event, traditionally held between September 15 and 20, will hopefully continue to grow in Dunedin, she said.

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