Spanish village soaks up Japanese traditions for cherry blossom festival
Alfarnate, Spain, Apr 16 (EFE).- A town in southern Spain is celebrating the cherry blossom festival of Sakura by embracing Japan’s cultural icons including origami and the art of kimono.
The town of Alfarnate, in Malaga, was once a well-known chickpea producer but the Spanish staple has been replaced by cherry trees which thrive in the local environment and climate which at 900 meters above sea level makes it the perfect location to reap juicy and ample harvests.
“Every year they (the Japanese community) come to see the cherry blossoms,” Mayor Juan Jesús Gallardo tells EFE.
“They spent the day in the fields and one day we thought: why don’t we celebrate it too?” he adds.
The Town hall started celebrating Sakura, the word in Japanese for cherry blooms, last year and it was such a success they decided to launch it again in 2023, this time with the backing of the Japanese embassy and the tourism office of Spain.
Workshops, parades, craft stalls, and Japanese food bring the town to life.
Residents have also been busy making 60,000 paper flowers since January which adorn the town’s streets.
But it doesn’t stop there. Residents have even dabbled in the art of kimono with the help of young local designer, Inmaculada Toledo Betancor, 29.
“The idea was that we could join the party. If on other occasions we dressed as villagers or as Moors and Christians, here we thought that we could all go with the traditional kimono,” she tells EFE.
“It has been a resounding success,” Betancor exclaims.
The municipality also boasts a beautiful sakura garden with 47 cherry trees, in a nod to the 47 prefectures that Japan has.
Alfarna currently grows over 20 varieties of cherry and the town’s approximately 4,000 cherry trees produce between 70,000 and 80,000 kilos of fruit each year. EFE