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Friday, April 4, 2008

Better late than never for Midtown's hanami

Staff writer

In Japan's cherry blossom season, missing full bloom is just part of the fun.

News photo
Performers from Okinawa and Machida will give a free show of eisa drum dancing in Roppongi.

This year, with Tokyo's peak annual explosion of pink petals arriving nine days early (and in the middle of the working week), many hopeful hanami (cherry-blossom viewing) goers no doubt had their plans disrupted. Not that they would have been too disappointed — and not that it will much influence the Tokyo Midtown Blossom festival, which continues this weekend in front of a fast-fading backdrop of cherry trees.

The festival is centered on a temporary stage set up in the Midtown Garden, behind the main towers if you're approaching from Roppongi Crossing.

On Saturday, there will be a performance of Okinawan drum dancing, or eisa, from 1 p.m. The performers hail from Okinawa and also Machida, in western Tokyo, where the dancing is also popular. From 4 p.m. a group of taiko drum performers will take the stage with Coi-na, a trio of female singers who perform traditional Okinawan songs.

On Sunday, it is the turn of Awa Odori dancers from Minami Koshigaya, Saitama Prefecture, to take the stage. Famous for attracting more than 550,000 people a year to their annual summer dance festivals, the troupe will include shamisen, drum, bell, flute players and also dancers.

Performances on Sunday commence from 1 and 4 p.m. and admission is free for both days. Details at www.tokyo-midtown.com

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