In Japan, the Sakura zensen or ‘cherry blossom front’ is tracked closely by the community as it travels up the country from south to north. Many community events are organized in the name of Sakura in Japan and the St. Regis wanted to create something similar here in Doha.
The aim of the St. Regis Cherry Blossom Festival this month was to bring something different to the city and provide the local community with the chance to experience Japanese culture in an accessible way that would educate and delight, and give families a chance to come and enjoy the atmosphere.
The passion points of the St. Regis brand include the arts, community, food, education and fashion, and the Kimono Fashion Fusion show was developed as a key event to bring the communities of Qatar and Japan together.
Displayed within the structure of the rites of passage, the beautiful kimono collection owned by Kimono Master, Suemi Nishiwaki, and the inspired abaya designs by Asma Sckali, brought together two groups of ladies; two cultures which are both vastly different but rich in their own culture; and two female garments integral to each culture which have been developed by women into fashion statements.
The event was coordinated by the St. Regis’ sales and marketing team, the Japanese Embassy in Doha and Mrs Hiroko Kitazume in Tokyo, and was a culmination of 6 months of tireless work from many. Mrs Kitazume said “I came to Doha to attend my 53rd Qatari wedding in October, having spent 5 years living here, and I was asked if I could get involved and bring some contacts and creativity to the Sakura festival that the St. Regis planned,” she said. It was when she returned to Tokyo that she decided to bring Suemi Nishiwaki into the discussions and create an opportunity to showcase her collection of over 1,000 kimonos.
Leanne Mills, Director of Marketing at The St. Regis Doha, said, “The intensity of the passion from all those involved in the planning and delivery of this fashion show has been inspiring. As a team in the hotel, we’ve all learnt a great deal about the Japanese culture and none of this would have been possible without involvement from individuals like Mrs Tomoko Watanabe at the Japanese Embassy, Rina Baba of The St. Regis Sales team, and the creative people at the Luxury Network” she said.
The three kimonos displayed in the lobby of the hotel have captured everyone entering the building who stop and admire the lacquer-work that took 3 years to complete. Each garment is worth in excess of $100,000 and “many local Qatari women have asked if they can buy one of them,” Leanne Mills said.
This week of cultural activities allows the St. Regis hotel to showcase many of its dining outlets during the festival, whilst offering something slightly different from normal operations. The Japanese menu at Astor Grill has been intricately developed, tasted and redeveloped by the Executive Chef and team at the venue, finally delivering a series of authentic flavors that rewards the discerning diner. The striploin with Japanese ginger and enoki mushrooms, served succulent and drenched in soy caramel foam from the Josper Grill and the moreish tuna tartar are inspiring dishes that may yet make it onto the standard Astor Grill menu.
The Japanese Afternoon tea boasts delicacies such as red bean scone and black sesame muffin with yuzu jam, temari sushi delights and sweet creations such as cherry blossom macarons, and a green tea milk shooter, all served with a choice of TWG tea. The experience is unique to the St. Regis Doha and a special Chakai tea performance enhances the experience in the Sarab Lounge from Weds 22 to Sat 25 April.
In summary, Mr Tareq Derbas, the General Manager of The St. Regis Doha said, “We have been delighted by the response so far from the local community of Doha, who seem to be embracing the Cherry Blossom activities we’re offering. We’re looking forward to welcoming families this weekend, at the Japanese Brunch and the Family picnic on Saturday, and we do hope this festival is something that we can repeat again in the future,” he said.
Beautiful photos from the Kimono Fashion Fushion show can be viewed on this link:
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