Stop and Smell the Ikebana 

There are a ridiculous number of events crammed into the three days of the Missouri Botanical Garden's Japanese Festival. Judo demonstrations, flower-arranging demonstrations, sumo, kendo, musical performances, cooking demos, Okinawan music and dance, ice carvers, street performers — the list keeps going. There's physically no way to see it all, so don't exhaust yourself trying. Pick a few things on the schedule and make an effort to get to those, but — and this is important — if you see something along the way that catches your fancy, stop and enjoy it. The secret to experiencing the festival is to let it come to you. So if you're on your way to the kids' activity tent and you spot the shibori tent with its fluttering swaths of dyed fabric, make the detour. If you're heading towards the dashi — the moving stage pulled by children — and you see the Candyman cutting spun sugar into hummingbirds, stop and see what he does next. It's the unexpected things found along the way that end up being the most memorable. The Japanese Festival takes place 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, and 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday (September 5 to 7) at the Missouri Botanical Garden (4344 Shaw Boulevard; 314-577-9400 or www.mobot.org). Admission is $5 to $15.
Sept. 5-7, 2009

Speaking of Highlights, Missouri Botanical Garden

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