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Philadelphia Kicks Off 20th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) -- Look around this week, and those cherry blossoms in Philadelphia are tell-tale signs of spring. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the week-long Subaru Cherry Blossom Festival at the Japanese House and Garden in West Fairmount Park.

As the sun showed off the cherry blossoms in full bloom, the group Kyo Daiko took to the taiko drums on an island in the garden.

'It's an amazing little treasure here. It's like visiting Japan without ever going out of the city."

Aaron Dilliplane of Japan America Society of Greater Philadelphia spent 3 1/2 years as an exchange student and an English teacher in rural Japan.

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"The cherry blossom festival represents the return of spring," Dilliplane said, "and it's very much the long-awaited arrival."

Since 1998, his organization has planted more than 1,000 cherry trees. Look for them along the River Drives, between the Museum of Art and the Waterworks, behind Memorial Hall and along Belmont Plateau. The first 1,600 flowering cherry trees in Philadelphia were planted in 1926, as a gesture of friendship from the Japanese government.

The main event during the festival is Sakura Sunday, at the Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park, celebrating traditional and contemporary Japan under the cherry blossoms, with live music, dance, a fashion show, martial arts, a tea tasting and a sushi making contest.

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