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stockholm

Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2016

whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden

Sakura Matsuri Stockholm – Cherry Blossom Festival

It’s hanami season and the blossoming of the cherry trees is sweaping across Japan. For the past couple of weeks we’ve been enjoying seeing photos and videos from Japan, of the pink and white flowers on Facebook, Instagram and YouTube. Now it’s finally our turn here in Sweden to do some cherry blossom viewing. To kick off the season we attended Körsbärsblommans Dag, Sakura Matsuri, which is the annual cherry blossom festival day in Stockholm, arranged by the Japanese Association. You never know if the trees will be in bloom during the festival, and this year they had just started coming out. We will try and come back later in the week, to see them in full bloom.

whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri Stockholm cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden

The stage

There were performances on stage throughout the day. Wa-Taiko drums, a fashion show, dance performances, choirs and more. Even Hello Kitty made an appearance. Here is Satoko Salme doing a traditional Japanse dance performance.

whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri Stockholm cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden

The stalls

There were also a lot of stalls spread around the area. You could find Japanese food, like teriyaki, and lots of different pastries. One stall was selling Belgian waffles, but with a Japanese touch for the day, matcha or azuki waffles. Here’s a matcha waffle with whipped cream and cherries, perfect to eat during a cherry blossom viewing festival.

whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri Stockholm cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden

whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri Stockholm cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden

Other stalls had merchandise for sale. We were very happy to see FUKU iro Pierce ear rings available for purchase. After the Fukushima earth quake and the Nuclear power plant incident, local women from the area started making these ear rings to have something to focus on and to feel hopeful about the future. They ear rings are made of Aizu cotton from Aizu, a safe area in the Fukushima prefecture, and acrylic resin.

whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri Stockholm cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden

Hans and Yoko Kimono Boutique had a stall. You can find them on Etsy too: HANSandYOKO on Etsy

whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri Stockholm cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden

Other stalls had cute stuff for sale, like lots of Totoro, accessories, makeup, stationary and more. J-Fashion Sweden were also there, an association for people interested in Japanese street fashion.

whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri Stockholm cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri Stockholm cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden

whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri Stockholm cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri Stockholm cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden

Every year I enjoy looking at the wonderful bonsai that the Swedish Bonsai Association has for display. We used to have a little bonsai before, but it died during the winter months. Mangakai, for people interested in manga and anime, also had their own stall at the festival.

whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri Stockholm cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden

whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri Stockholm cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden

Hello Kitty was on stage, and when her appearance was over and she was walking away from the festival, she stopped for anyone who wanted a photo or a hug. She was adorable and made a lot of people happy.

whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri Stockholm cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden

We saw lots of people cosplaying, like the beautiful Nathy in this amazing costume. You can visit her page on Facebook here: Nathy on Facebook

whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri Stockholm cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden

All in all, it was a lovely event, just like previous years. Shame about the weather this time though. It was chilly and rainy. But still, a lot of people came anyway to enjoy a little bit of hanami.

whysojapan hanami Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom korsbarsblommans dag kungstradgarden

Previous posts about Sakura Matsuri in Stockholm:
Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015
Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2014
Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2013





Posted on by Vega @ whysojapan.com in Events Leave a comment

Zui ki tei, a Japanese tea house in Sweden

whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm

A Japanese tea house in Sweden

The first Japanese tea house in Europe was built in 1935 in Stockholm, Sweden. It burnt down 34 years later, but in 1990 – 25 years ago – a new tea house was built, and it can be found in the garden of the Museum of Ethnography in Stockholm Sweden. The museum has a collection of historical and cultural objects from all over the world, including a lot of items from Japan, and until spring 2016 there is an exhibition about Japan at the museum, called “Japan takes place“. We recently went to the exhibition, and we took the opportunity to attend a guided tour of the Japanese tea house, Zui ki tei. The name Zui ki tei (瑞暉亭) translates to “The dwelling of the light of promise” but it can also be read as Sweden and Japan.

whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm

A Japanese tea house, where you leave your worries behind

The Zui ki tei tea house was designed by Japanese architect Masao Nakamura. It was built in Japan, taken down, and re-built in Sweden and now stands in a garden next to the Museum of Ethnography, called “Dew’s ground“. During the summer months, when the trees and bushes are covered with green leaves, the tea house is quite well hidden. When you are standing in the garden, it actually feels like you’re cut off from the work outside. Everything is quiet and peaceful.

When you walk up to the tea house, you start by stepping on a stone and then walk along a pathway, and this symbolizes that you’re now leaving all the stress of your every day life, and stepping into the calm. You leave all your worries aside and slow down and enjoy the moment. Before entering the tea house garden you go through two gates, another symbol of leaving stress and entering the calm.

whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm

Tea Philpsophy and Wabi

Before you are invited into the tea house, you have a sit in the waiting hut. You can have a chat with your friends and you can enjoy your surroundings. Wabi is part of the tea philosophy, and it stands for “Appreciating the beauty of things that are simple and natural”. In the autumn when the leaves start to fall, the leaves are left on the ground. It’s all part of Wabi – that’s how nature is and it is enjoyed that way. The waiting hut wooden pillars are left raw and unpainted, another part of Wabi, they’re left to look just like nature. There is a stone lantern, used during darker evenings.

whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm

Entering the tea house

The photo below to the left is of the entrance to the tea house. All guests enter via this small door, no matter of your status. Even though there are different levels of statuses, this is a symbol of how we are all equal. Unless you’re part of the Emperor’s family, then you will enter via another, bigger, door.

The photo below to the right shows where the samurais leave their swords before they enter the tea house. The shorter shelf is for the seppuku / harakiri sword, the shorter sword a samurai would use for suicide to avoid shame.

whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm

The design of the tea house

Even though most tea houses may look very similar to an untrained eye, they are all very individually designed. This specific tea house is close to Djurgårdsbrunnsviken Bay, so the element of water has been incorporated into the design as waves along the sides. It recently went through a renovation and restoration process, by craftsmen from Yasuimoku Komuten Company from Kyoto. They used traditional Japanese tools when doing the restoration.

The tea house consists of two tea rooms. The smaller room is more simple and the bigger room is more formal. The sliding rice paper walls inside the house (which are not actually made of rice paper) are designed to block off what’s happening outside, but still let the light through. This is so you can concentrate on the moment and the tea ceremony, without any distractions.

whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm

The interior is kept simple. Tatami mats cover the floor, and there is a built in space called tokonoma where you display a piece of art to appreciate. It can be a painting, and it follows whatever is happening in nature at that specific time. For example, during autumn there could be a painting of a tree with falling leaves. It is also displaying a vase with a simple flower arrangement, ikebana.

whysojapan japanese tea house Zui ki tei etnografiska museet stockholm

The tea ceremony

The bigger room can take up to 20 guests, but because of the intimacy of the ceremony, the number is kept down to 12. The conversation is polite and typical discussions can be about the pottery that is being used. To study the Japanese tea ceremony takes years, and you study with the same master, you don’t change tea schools. Together with the Japanese Tea Society, you can attend beginner courses in the Japanese tea ceremony at the tea house in Stockholm. You can also host your own private tea ceremony for business events or family celebrations, or for a private experience of traditional Japanese culture. There are also open house days and demonstrations of the tea ceremony during the warmer half of the year, but you have to book beforehand to attend the demonstrations.

Learn more

If you want to know more about Zui ki tei or Japanese tea houses in general, here are some links:

Museum of Ethnography
Zui ki tei tea house
Japanese Tea Society Sweden
Japanese tea ceremony





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Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Sakura Matsuri Stockholm – Cherry Blossom Festival

Every year there is a cherry blossom festival (“Körsbärsblommans Dag”) in central Stockholm, Sweden, organized by the Japanese Association. For the public, it’s a lovely tradition to go there every year and experience a little bit of the hanami spirit even though Sweden is far away from Japan. This year the cherry trees were just beginning to flower and it was a nice sunny day. The festival was packed with people, it seems to become more and more popular each year.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

 A taste of traditional Japan

During the festival there were lots of stalls where you could see some of the traditional side of Japan.

Furoshiki – traditional wrapping cloth you use to wrap your gifts or goods in. Both sides of the fabric are decorated with beautiful colours and patterns.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015 WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Bonsai – Growing trees in small pots to make them grow into miniature size. The bonsai trees come from the Swedish bonsai association club, bonsaisallskapet.se. Even though none of the trees were for sale, the club members that had brought them along were very happy to talk about all things bonsai.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Origami –  Folding paper and sculpturing it into shapes.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Shodō –  Japanese calligraphy. This seemed to be one of the more popular stalls, where you could get your own zodiac animal sign in calligraphy, beautifully hand painted.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Kimono – A traditional Japanese garment. At the festival you could try it on to see what it’s like to wear. This was another one of the stalls that we had seen before which seemed to be very popular. We also saw lots of people walking around with kimono and yukata.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Ikebana – Flower arrangement art.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Karuta – A Japanese card game.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Food stalls, Japanese goods and more

There were also several food stalls where you could buy bento, onigri, kimchi, macha cakes, sushi, noodles and lots more.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Bon Aibon are Japanese sweet cakes made by Ai Ventura, who also sells her cakes at the cafe Kikusen in Östasiatiska Museet in Stockholm.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

The food stalls were really popular at the festival with some of the stalls having very long queues.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

The Swedish manga association also had a stall, showing off lots of different manga books.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Sunai Japan Shop had a stall with stationary, magazines and bento boxes for sale.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

Selmish was there, selling packets of Japanese treats and more.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

It was also great to see a lot of our favourite dog breed, the shiba inu, which were all walking around very proud.

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

WhySoJapan hanami cherry blossom festival Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2015

The Japanese Association of Stockholm is a great site to check for other Japanese events in Sweden.

We have posted lots of other articles about hanami over the years. They can all be found by clicking the following link: hanami





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Sakura Matsuri Stockholm 2014

whysojapan_hanami_korsbarsblommans_dag_sakura_2014_10

Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival)

Yesterday the annual Swedish Cherry Blossom Festival in Stockholm took place in Kungsträdgården. We got lucky this year, because the cherry trees were actually still in bloom. The weather was fantastic, sunny and warm, and the park was filled with loads of people.

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On stage, they had a lolita fashion show, a cosplay show, dance performances, choires and more.

whysojapan_hanami_korsbarsblommans_dag_sakura_2014_16whysojapan_hanami_korsbarsblommans_dag_sakura_2014_17whysojapan_hanami_korsbarsblommans_dag_sakura_2014_19

Järfälla Akido Club had invited people to train for free.

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You could try a kimono on.

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A company called KIKI was there, selling tenugui, beauitful hand printed Japanese hand towels made of cotton.

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First Leaf Ikebana, an ichiyo ikebana school, had mini lessons, taught people how make flower arrangements the ikebana way. They have courses and workshops throughout the year.

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Mangakai was there too. Thery’re a manga and anime association where the members meet up and draw manga, watch anime, play games and socialise together.

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And then there were many other sellers there. Yuko Ono Sthlm was selling beautiful tea caddies and lovely Japanese tea, like gyokuru, yame sencha, fukamushi sencha and kaoribo hojicha. You could also find stalls selling clothes, food, snacks, cute items (Totoro!) and more.

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Other stalls included igo (a game, pictured above), origami (paper folding), Blueberry (study Japanese in Japan), Japanspecialisten (arranged trips to Japan), Japanska Skolan and more. It was a great event, and we are already looking forward to next year!





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Taiko drum performance

A week ago I went to watch a Japanese drum performance. A man played on the traditional taiko drum together with a young man, who I believe was his student.

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The man said that he had visited Japan on several occasions and had been inspired by the music there, and now he played rhythms that came from different parts of Japan. Apparently he has been playing taiko drums for twenty years!

why_so_japan_taiko_drum_japanese_drums why_so_japan_taiko_drum_japanese_drums_3

After the performance, the audience was invited up to try out the drums, and drum sticks were given out to children for them to tap along with the drumming.

Here’s a closer look of the taiko drum.

why_so_japan_taiko_drum_drums

Here is a video of the performance. The sound of the drumming was a lot more impressive in real life, its hard to capture on film. Enjoy!

Read more about taiko drums at Wikipedia here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taiko





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