By Khalida Sarwari
It’s the Year of the Dog and Saratoga is ready. Hakone Gardens will celebrate the Chinese New Year with great fanfare on March 4.
The Hakone Foundation’s 10th annual Lunar New Year Festival will feature entertainment, a children’s parade, arts and crafts activities, face painting, Chinese musical and martial arts performances and for the first time this year, a traditional Chinese face mask changing act.
“Bian lian” is an ancient Chinese dramatic art where performers wear brightly colored costumes and masks that they change from one face to another almost instantaneously with the swipe of a fan, a movement of the head or wave of the hand.
“This is a very traditional Chinese performance even though not a lot of people can do it,” said Emily Lo, a Saratoga city councilwoman and member of the Hakone board of trustees who is co-chairing this year’s event.
The festivities will kick off at noon with a triple-lion performance by the Far East Dragon and Lion Dance Association. “It’s one of the popular features of the event, the most popular I would say,” Lo said.
A Chinese calligraphy demonstration and traditional Chinese dance are also on the day’s agenda, along with a tai chi demonstration. Shaolin Shaolin will put on a martial arts demonstration.
The children’s costume parade will begin promptly at 2 p.m. and is open to anyone under 12. Participants are asked to check in by noon.
Typically a 15-day holiday, Chinese New Year officially kicks off on Feb. 16. According to Chinese astrology, each year is associated with an animal sign, occurring in a 12-year cycle. This is the Year of the Dog, an animal that is commonly associated with loyalty, honesty and justice.
“The kind of person born in the Year of the Dog is usually considered very loyal, compassionate and affectionate,” Lo said.
Last year, the event drew around 250 people due to inclement weather, according to Lo. She said she hopes more people attend this year.
The festival is open to the public and free with the entrance fee to Hakone Gardens. The entrance fee is $10 for adults and $8 for students and seniors. Members as well as children under 5 are free. Members are welcome to bring one guest.
Transportation to the event via a shuttle bus will be provided at 14460 Big Basin Way in front of the Chamber of Commerce. Guests are encouraged to take a shuttle or carpool as parking at Hakone is limited.
Hakone’s Lunar New Year Festival will be held March 4, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. at 2100 Big Basin Way.
For more information about the event, visit hakone.com.