Who else is in love with Japanese culture? My trip to Tokyo was an absolute dream, and reminiscing right here in my hometown was so. much. fun. My mom and I have gone to the Nashville Cherry Blossom Festival for years, and it’s continued to grow in vendors and participants ever since it began. This past Saturday, we took our dog downtown and did some sightseeing at this year’s festival. If you can’t wait until CMA Fest to visit Nashville, then the Cherry Blossom Festival may be a good time of year for you to come on down to Music City! If you just moved here and have no clue what I’m talking about, then you’re just the person I wrote this for. 🙂 Here are 6 reasons why you should check it out:
1 // It’s absolutely, 100% free
What a breath of fresh air it is to type those words! So many fun things to do in Nashville come with a hefty price tag. It’s grown increasingly difficult to find things to do in the city for free, even though there are some awesome freebies in Nashville. The Cherry Blossom Festival is free for you and your pet to enter, but you will have to shell out some cash if you want food or souvenirs. Pro tip: If you want free parking, too, then don’t use the lots they recommend on the festival’s website. Head on over to Lot R at Nissan Stadium where there’s free parking and walk across the pedestrian bridge instead!
2 // Performances
There are performers all day long at the festival that showcase Japanese culture in one way or another. We stayed to watch some Taiko drummers from Houston. There are so many shows to watch depending on what aspect of Japanese culture you’re interested in: music, dance, Taiko, you name it. Grab a seat (or just stand) and enjoy the shows!
3 // Art and Culture Booths
This is my favorite part of the festival. There’s a tea ceremony booth, where a Japanese-American lady demonstrates the steps and significance of a traditional tea ceremony. If you’re in the mood to wrestle, there’s an area where you and a friend can get into sumo suits and duke it out. There are also booths with handcrafted jewelry everywhere, and with great prices! I bought a pair of gorgeous origami earrings with freshwater pearls on them for $10. I know, right!? There’s also a stand where you can donate and get your very own cherry blossom tree.
4 // Food. Trucks. Everywhere.
This is one major aspect of the festival that has grown like wildfire over the past few years. There is an entire street in downtown Nashville closed down on the day of the festival with food vendors lined up and down it. This year, I noticed some Japanese and Laotian food stands, and even some food trucks with Mexican cuisine, among other flavors of the world. One really cool thing about the festival is that it is intercultural. It’s all about sharing and appreciating culture, so they’re always willing to have vendors from everywhere come be apart of it.
5 // Get Dressed Up in Costumes
I’ve never hopped on the bandwagon for this, but there are some really cool costumes that I’ve seen in the past few years. This year, some cosplayers were gracious enough to allow me to take a photo of them. I love that the festival is a place where people can experience culture and share their personalities.
6 // Furry Friends are Welcome
As I mentioned above, we brought Teddy to the festival this year. As long as your pet is on a leash, feel free to bring them! The Nashville Humane Association also has a truck where volunteers bring dogs for adoption. Pro tip: If you forget bags in case your dog takes a you-know-what, ask the volunteers for one. They were super helpful when we realized we had no bags for Teddy! Some people that like to dress up also dress their dogs in costumes. I couldn’t help myself when I saw these two in matching flower crowns. Too adorable!
There are so many other booths, cultural experiences, and cool things to do at the Cherry Blossom Festival. I barely scraped the surface with this post! If you’re moseyin’ on down to Nashville and you’re sick of the regular tourist scene, be sure to check out my tips from a local about what to see and do in Music City. Here’s a picture of Teddy and I to hold you over until next time!
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