Missouri Botanical Garden festival celebrates Japanese culture

Thursday, August 28, 2008

A little Asian culture comes to St. Louis during the Japanese Festival at the Missouri Botanical Garden.

Saturday, Sunday and Monday will highlight dozens of different aspects of Japanese culture, from the aikido martial arts demonstrations to sumo wrestling and the Bon Odori.

The Bon Odori marks the end of summer for all of Japan. Dancers wear colorful kimonos and dance to a taiko drum beat. The Bon Odori decends from the Buddhist festival of Obon, where the spirits of the dead return to earth and wander through their villages to offer prayers to homes and businesses they pass, according to the festival website.

The three-day event also features several opportunities to participate in "chado," the ritual of tea. Japanese tea ceremonies are not just for drink and conversation. They are a precise ritual with choreographed movements done by the "master of the tea ceremony" that equate the "preparing a bowl of tea to a level of art," according to the news release.

The festival is from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday. Admission is $3 for ages 3 to 12 and Garden members, $7 for 65 and older, $10 ages 13 to 64. For more information, visit mobot.org.

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