Adventures, Cherry Blossom Festival, Downtown, Special Events, The Features

Celebrating 100 Years of Blossoms

Photo courtesy of katieharbath
Cherry Blossoms
courtesy of katieharbath
It’s cherry blossom time! This year is the Centennial anniversary of Japan’s gifting of the cherry trees to the U.S. and the National Cherry Blossom Festival has planned a whopping five weeks of events to celebrate. While the festival officially kicks off this coming Sunday, some events are already unfolding this week – not to mention we’re smack in the middle of the peak bloom time of the trees.

We’ll provide you a weekly listing of events here on WeLoveDC so you can keep up with all the fantastic offerings. There’s so much going on for the Centennial that we can promise there’s something for everyone! (And don’t forget to drop your photos into our Flickr pool!)

Tonight is the sold-out 2012 Pink Tie Party at the Mayflower Renaissance. Chefs José Andrés and Roy Yamaguchi, innovators in the culinary community, will host the evening, exemplifying the international collaboration and creativity at the heart of the Festival. The sixth annual fundraiser and kick-off to the Centennial Celebration and the “season of the blossoms” will feature area chefs’ spring-, cherry- and blossom-inspired cuisine and cocktails. An auction contributes to the Festival’s fundraising efforts offering everything from weekend getaways and yacht charters to concert, sporting, dining, and theater experiences and blossom- and Japanese-themed jewelry and apparel. Continue reading

Special Events, The Mall

Orchid Mystique at US Botanic Garden

Photo courtesy of Rukasu1
courtesy of Rukasu1

If seeing cherry blossom buds makes you impatient for late March, the US Botanic Garden has you (and your date…or camera…) covered with their annual display of orchids – Orchid Mystique: Nature’s Triumph.

I visited last weekend on an extremely affordable date (admission is always free), and decided that the Botanic Garden must have some of the best curators in the city.

To commemorate the 100th anniversary of Japan’s cherry blossom gift to DC this year, the orchid show has a distinctly Japanese flair. Archways span the garden court’s fountains, which take on new character with steam and floating flowers. Orchids snake through the building and hang in all colors from bridges overhead. The East Gallery houses a Japanese rock garden with near-perfect bonzai. On a less crowded weekday visit, the quiet space would complement midday meditation.

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Food and Drink

Lima Meets Tokyo in Zengo’s Pisco-Inspired Seasonal Menu

Photo Credit: Tina Wong, Wandering Eater

Peru and Japan have had deep cultural ties since the late 1800s, when waves of Japanese immigrants began arriving in Peru for the first time. Today, individuals of Japanese heritage are the largest minority group in the country. With this history in mind, then, it is natural that Peruvian-Japanese came to mind when Zengo wanted to create a special fusion menu.

Available for the month of October, the “Taste of Lima-Tokyo” menu is the first in a series of menus that take Zengo’s overall Latin-Asian fusion concept and narrow it down to focus on specific locations on those two continents and bring out the connections and contrasts between them, while infusing it all with a modern, cosmopolitan taste. The special menu consists of a collection of small plates and cocktails.

Last week, Zengo hosted a tasting for members of the media and food bloggers, where we were offered the opportunity to sample all the items off the food and drink menus and hear from the chef and bar director about their inspirations. Chief among them, the traditional grape brandy native to Peru, Pisco.

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We Love Music

We Love Music: Acid Mothers Temple @ Red Palace, 4/14/11

All photos courtesy of Acid Mothers Temple

On Thursday night, I cruised down to the Red Palace to catch an offbeat show. When I first heard about a self-described “guitar freak-out” psychedelic rock collective from Japan, named Acid Mothers Temple, I knew they’d be up my alley. I love noisy bands that can bring a ton of energy to a venue. I love going to shows that push the boundaries of music, that are truly an experience unlike any other.

A handful of people got that experience at the show, but I felt like I was missing something. It was weird and offbeat, but it wasn’t the transcendent event I hoped it would be. In my head, I imagined a bunch of guys nodding in rhythm, hanging on every note the guitarists would bless us with. The band gave us a few moments like this, but for the most part I just didn’t find them that intriguing.

I enjoyed openers Shilpa Ray a bit more – they were an unusual four-piece, with Shilpa playing harmonium jams while alternating between singing, yelling and growling. Their songs worked well, and I could feel the intensity when the band hit their groove.
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Monumental, The Features

Monumental: National Japanese American Memorial To Patriotism During World War II

Crane and Barbed Wire 2
Crane and Barbed Wire 2 by tbridge

The National Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II stands on a small triangle of land just north of the Capitol between D St NW, New Jersey Ave and Louisiana Ave. The beautiful bronze crane in barbed wire rises above the low cement landscape, a 14-foot statue designed by Nina Akamu, in demonstration of the Japanese-American’s plight during the second world war. While you might be more familiar with the larger World War II Memorial on the Mall, this monument stands in admittance of the difficult situation that Japanese Americans were placed at the start of hostilities against the Empire of Japan in 1941.

By 1942, many Japanese Americans were placed in Internment camps throughout the Western United States, often in the midst of deserts and other wastelands. Their names, like Manzanar, Topaz and Jerome, are inscribed into the western retaining wall, along with the number of American citizens contained therein. Over 110,000 people, three quarters American citizens, were detained by the United States Government during World War II in these camps. The blanket actions were meant to discourage espionage by those who could be loyal to the Japanese Empire inside the United States. In 1988, President Reagan signed into law an apology on the behalf of the American Government to those who were interned in those camps, and paid out a $1.6B reparation to the families and survivors. Continue reading

Food and Drink, The DC 100, The Features

DC Omnivore 100: #83 Pocky

Pocky Flavors

Pocky Flavors by Pocky-Love-Club

Growing up my best friend Kano was half Japanese, and one of the best parts of going over to her house besides playing NES, eating homemade sushi and getting to watch rated R movies, was an endless supply of Pocky.  After dinner her mom would hand us our own personal box and we’d go off and watch “The Crying Game” or “Blue Steel”.  Really appropriate for 10 year olds.  I think I was scarred for life.  Moving on. Continue reading