By Allana Haynes
UJW Staff Writer
WASHINGTON – Dylan Lauber showed his appreciation for the cherry blossom trees by dressing in a yukata, a traditional Japanese garment worn in the spring and summer months. His attire consisted of a long brown robe that brushed the ground as he walked, a sash around his waist and sandal-like shoes worn with white socks.
The yukata was appropriate for the occasion because it was a way to reflect and celebrate the history of the National Cherry Blossom Festival and Parade, which celebrated its 100thanniversary on April 14.
A hundred years ago, the mayor of Toyko, Yukio Ozaki, gave cherry blossom trees to America as a token of friendship between the Japanese and American people. Every year since then, people from all over the world have gathered at the festival which now is held on Constitution Avenue between seventh and 17th streets in downtown Washington.
A recent college graduate, Lauber is originally from Arlington, Va., but now resides in Kansas. He takes an interest in Japanese culture and trains in martial arts. He said he purchased his yukata online.
A yukata is a form of traditional Japanese dress that is made of light cotton fabric and is typically worn during the warmer months. Whereas the kimono has two collars, the yukata only has one. The yukata also tends to be more casual and less expensive than the kimono and other Japanese garments.
Like Lauber, people from different ages, cultures and backgrounds came from all over the world to attend the festival.
Northern Virginia resident Emily Sylvest, who was also dressed in traditional Japanese attire, came to the cherry blossom festival for the first time today.
“When I was a kid, I lived in Japan and I wanted to come and see the parade in America,” Sylvest said.
Sylvest whose father was in the military, spent a portion of her childhood living on U.S. military base in Iwakuni, located near the city of Hiroshima. Her upbringing in Japan influenced her choice of dress for the event, which she said was inspired by the Edo period, the last traditional period in Japan that lasted from the 16th to the 17th centuries. Her outfit consisted of a long red kimono with a big golden sash across the waist. She completed the look with gold eye shadow, bright lipstick and pink cherry blossoms tucked into her short pigtails.
Sylvest said she had great experiences in Japan, and said that country’s cherry blossomfestival as one. However, she said she enjoyed the National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, as well.