Mar 302003
Authors: Amy Bergstrom

The Lory Student Center was transformed Saturday into a snapshot of a far-off land.

Sakura Day, part of the Cherry Blossom Festival being put on by the CSU Asian Studies Program and the Japanese Student Association, attracted families from around Fort Collins to learn about Japanese culture.

“The neatest part is going to be having the kids come and learn about Japanese culture, probably for the first time,” said Jessica Oppenheim, vice president of JSA and a senior majoring in international relations, before the festival.

Sakura Day provided hands-on opportunities for cultural experiences with workshops in origami, dressing in kimonos, calligraphy, tea ceremonies and shiatsu massage, along with traditional Japanese-style story telling and a trivia contest for high school students.

This year marks the 150th anniversary of United States-Japan relations. In 1853, US Commodore Matthew Perry arrived in a Japanese port, resulting in Japan opening its country.

To celebrate this event along with the arrival of spring, traditionally in Japan marked by the blooming of the cherry blossom, the Asian Studies Program and JSA have put together a series of lectures and demonstrations, highlighted by Sakura Day.

Mako Beecken, advisor of JSA and a member of the Asian Studies board, estimated that more than 200 people participated in Sakura Day. Most of these were members of the community, including many kids, which was “exactly what we hoped for,” Beecken said.

Bonnie Lindstrom brought her 12-year-old son and 10-year-old daughter because of their interest in origami and calligraphy. “They love it, they’re interested in everything, and it’s a good cultural experience,” Lindstrom said, displaying her daughter’s calligraphy characters of the number ten and the word peace.

Beecken said she was pleased to see many people enjoying the Japanese culture and emphasized the importance of these experiences.

“At a time like this, it is very important to understand other cultures and understand each other,” she said.

For more information on upcoming events, see

Names/facts checked:

Mako Beecken

Jessica Oppenheim

Bonnie Lindstrom

Commodore Matthew Perry and his arrival in 1853

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