Children’s Day Festival

Japanese parents so cherish their sons and daughters that in 1948 they set aside the fifth day of every May as a national holiday to celebrate the health and happiness of their youngsters. We invite you to follow suit with us on Saturday, May 6, at our fourth annual Children’s Day Festival, from 11:00 am to 3:00 pm. This is our last event before we close for the summer on May 20.

Our most beloved festival of the year features includes goldfish netting, yukata (summer-weight kimonos) for youngsters to wear, and lessons in origami (paper folding) and decorating Japanese lanterns. A new activity this year is a workshop to show children how to make obento : box-shaped containers that are universal in Japan for carrying home-packed meals to school or work. Obento kits, assembly lessons, chopsticks, and rice and other food for the boxes will be for sale for $15.

Also this year, children can watch a dexterous artiste magically fashion dragons and comic characters from Japanese manga (cartoons) out of ordinary tin foil. And a flamboyantly dressed role-player – personified by Lani Chan – will perform as the singing and dancing Miku Hatsune, an anime character and virtual pop star famous in Japan as a “vocaloid,” or humanoid persona voiced by a singing synthesizer application.

Admission to the Festival is $10 for adults and $3 for children fifteen and under. Entry is free for members of Yume Japanese Gardens.

To fight early summer temperatures, you can purchase refreshing traditional Japanese foods, such as cold noodles (somen) and kakigōri , a shaved ice dessert flavored with syrup and a sweetener that is savored by children of all ages. Also available will be Japanese curry and rice in both chicken and vegetarian versions, Japanese flavored cold drinks, snacks, and coffee and tea.

Activities (and fees, where applicable):


Tin foil manga cartoon character and dragon construction demonstration ($2)

11:00 – 3:00

Goldfish netting ($2 per fish);

Yukatas for children (free)

Japanese lantern decorating ($2)

Kakigōri shaved ice refreshment ($2)

11:30 – 2:00

Obento box assembly ($15, includes obento kit)


Lani Chan (“Miku Hatsune”) dance party (free)

1:00 – 3:00

Origami paper-folding (free)


Easter Weekend Enchanted Evenings

We are again holding our very popular Enchanted Evenings event, April 14 through April 16. From 6:30 to 8:00 pm each evening, you can stroll Yume by the radiant light of candles and Japanese lanterns, as haunting traditional bamboo flute melodies float through the Gardens. (Note: this is recorded and not live music.) Take advantage of cool spring nights to see our garden settings from a different perspective.

Admission to this after-hours event is $10 for adults, $5 for children under 15, and free for members of Yume Japanese Gardens.


Tea at Twilight

Visit Yume on Friday, April 21 at 6:30 p.m., for our first-ever nighttime tea ceremony. One of Japan’s most hallowed rituals will hold especial meaning for you as darkness deepens at our replica Japanese house and you receive a cup of specially prepared green tea and a traditional sweet from a kimono-clad mistress of “The Way of Tea.” Admission to part of the lantern-lit Gardens is included in this one-of-a-kind event. Cost: $20. Limited to 15 participants, with reservations required at


Tea Ceremony

Take part in one of Japan’s most cherished and spiritual rituals on Saturday, April 8, and see why refinement and subtlety are by-words in Japanese culture. In traditional costume and following canons of etiquette established nearly 1,000 years ago, a tea ceremony master will prepare and serve you a cup of matcha, or powdered green tea, and a traditional Japanese sweet to nibble. The elegant art of the ceremony, the reverence with which it is performed, and the emotional effect it produces will leave a deep and lasting impression on you.

This is among our most popular events at Yume, and we have scheduled the ceremony for 11:00 am and 1:30 pm to accommodate all who wish to participate. Reservations are required. Please RSVP by April 1 to, with your name, telephone number, and the number in your party and specify the time at which you would like to attend. The cost is $15 per person, plus regular Gardens admission. Members of Yume Japanese Gardens pay only the ceremony attendance fee.


Girl’s Day Hina Doll Exhibit

An annual milestone in the life of young Japanese girls occurs on March 3. That’s Girl’s Day, when parents in Japan wish their daughters health and happiness and mark the occasion by putting out the family’s treasured ornamental Hina dolls.

From February 8 to March 6, we’re exhibiting our own vintage set of these exquisite figures.  A multi-tiered platform covered with red fabric displays dolls representing the emperor and empress and their court attendants and musicians arrayed in the traditional dress of the Heian period (794-1185 AD). For 800 years such doll sets have been handed down from mother to daughter, and in many regions of Japan there is a superstition that they must come down soon after Girls’ Day and be put away for another year, lest the girls in the household remain single for the rest of their lives.

Bring in your own daughter, granddaughter, niece, or simply a friend’s little girl to enjoy this fleeting pageantry in miniature. Their brothers are welcome, too!


Otaku Festival And Cosplay Party – Japan’s Wilder Side

“Otaku” and “cosplay” may be unfamiliar to you. But they refer to young Japan’s hippest hobby, as you’ll memorably grasp at our festival and party to celebrate it, on Saturday, March 4, between 10:00 am and 4:00 pm.

“Cosplay” comes from “costume play.” It describes making up and suiting up to adopt – and in the most extreme cases, even live out – the activities of characters in Japanese cartoons, anime movies, music videos, and manga comics. The most obsessed, full-time fans form a genuine subculture that Japanese social scientists call “otaku.” In essence, it is performance art.

Southern Arizona’s own lively cosplay community will party down at Yume in flashy ensembles, elaborate headgear, and glitzy accessories of all kinds. You can mingle with cosplayers in outlandish outfits inspired by Japanese pop music stars, inspect others in flouncy skirts and petticoats in imitation of “Lolita” comic characters, and watch a screened showing of cosplay favorite Hatsune Miku, a “vocaloid,” or humanoid persona voiced by a singing synthesizer application.

Rounding out the day’s activities will be an origami workshop, a display of action and musical Hatsune Miku figurines, a show of flamboyant Japanese street fashion, and an exhibition of another of Japan’s latest enthusiasms: BJDs, or poseable dolls with ball and joint sockets. They have a distinctly Asian aesthetic with often eerily lifelike features, and are customizable and collectible.

Admission to the Otaku Festival and Cosplay Party is $10 per person. Show up in costume yourself, if you’re so inclined.



“Japan by Night” Photo Exhibition And Free Reception

Join us Saturday, February 18, from 5:00 pm to 7:00 pm for a free reception in our art gallery and preview “Japan by Night,” an exhibition by Louis J. Rivera, a young photojournalist with a sharp eye for the new and vibrant in an ancient culture.

The 25-year-old Rivera made his first acquaintance with Japan through the Japanese community and supermarkets of San Diego, California, where he was born and raised. To share the beauty of Japan, he took up photography, taught himself Japanese, and devotes himself to documenting the country and its ways in both images and words, through “Chasing Japan,” a popular blog he co-founded.

Shot on summer evenings in 2016 on the animated streets of a variety of cities and towns, “Japan by Night” opens on February 19 and continues through March 28. Visiting hours are 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, Tuesday through Sunday, and entrance to the exhibition is free with regular Gardens admission.


Zen Calligraphy Demonstration And Workshop

Japanese calligraphy is strongly influenced by Zen thought. To properly draw a message on rice or mulberry paper with brush and ink, you must clear your mind, harmonize your breath with your brush, and let the characters flow out of themselves. Attend a demonstration by master calligrapher Yoshi Nakano on February 25 at 1:00 pm and learn why Zen calligraphy is as much an exercise in self-transcendence as a writing method. The demonstration is free with regular admission to the Gardens.

Return the following day, February 26, and pick up a brush yourself in an intensive calligraphy workshop from 1:00-4:00 pm. Yoshi Nakano will teach you to cultivate the skill and philosophy once reserved for Japanese scholars, monks, nobles, and emperors. The class fee of $35 covers all materials. The workshop is limited to 12 participants, so register early by email to Admission to the Gardens is extra.


2017 Spring Ikebana Festival

Banish wintertime blues with a stroll through Yume during our Spring Ikebana Festival, February 24 to March 2. From 10:00 am to 4:30 pm, Tuesdays through Sundays, you can admire dozens of flower arrangements throughout the Gardens and our galleries. These creations highlight the styles of five different schools of Ikebana, ranging from classical to contemporary, reflecting the evolution of one of Japan’s signature traditional arts over the past 1,000 years. Free with regular Gardens admission.


Spring 2017 Ikebana Classes

If you have marveled at the floral arrangements in our Ikebana exhibitions and wished that you could make such striking displays for your home or as gifts, wait no longer to enroll in one of our remaining Spring 2017 Ikebana workshops.

Ikebana originated in the 7th century, under the influence of Buddhist priests, and is much more than a simple expression of creativity like the Western custom of putting pretty flowers in a vase. A disciplined art form with deep-rooted rules, it bestows special benefits on those who practice it: inner peace, and harmony with nature, both while creating an arrangement and when contemplating it later.

As a living tradition, Ikebana has evolved into a number of major schools over the centuries. We offer two-hour classes in the techniques of the Ikenobo and Sogetsu schools. Ikenobo is the oldest school and specializes in a time-honored classical manner of arrangement. Sogetsu developed around 1926 and makes use of a wider range of materials to achieve a style that is more fluid and free-form. There is a $25 instruction and materials fee for Ikenobo classes; Sogetsu classes cost $35. Fees do not include admission to the Gardens, and are payable to the instructor by check or cash in class. Registration is required: please email specifying which class(es) you wish to attend.

Ikenobo School:  Tuesday, April 25  6:00 pm

Sogetsu School:   Sunday, May 7  9:30 am & 1:00 pm