THE MARVELS OF MASK CHANGING: To venture to a big-of-spirit, big-of-hope celebration is to know you may enjoy various presentations and performances that move you, that surprise you, and that are, quite often, completely new to you, too, at least when it comes to enjoying them live and in person. If you've seen the art of bian lian, or Chinese face mask changing, on a special program or series, you know it is considered very difficult, a gorgeous and mysterious art form that takes an incredible amount of skill, practice, and dedication. Thus to experience it in person, a rare pleasure, is a marvelous chance, for sure. But finding the mask changing, which hails from Sichuan Opera, presented as part of a larger festivity isn't always easy. Hakone Estate and Gardens, the exqusitely lush and well-appointed landmark in Saratoga, will be one such place to appreciate this ancient art form, and the date to do so is on Sunday, March 4. The mask changing, as well as several other happenings, will summon the celebratory sweetness that is Lunar New Year, which is, as March begins, winding down.
YOUR ADMISSION... to Hakone gives you entry into the festival, which will also include a Far East Dragon Dance, a Lion Dance, a calligraphy demonstration, martial arts and Tai Chi presentations, craft booths, and more. The hours are 11 a.m. to 3 p.m., so arrive early if you want to fully bask in the happening, which will also include music. It's the Year of the Dog, and should you want to say hello to what's to come, in a manner that is rife with joyful anticipation about what's next, Hakone is the happy spot to do so. That there's a chance to also bask in so much beautiful performance, including Chinese face mask changing, makes this a Sunday midday must. Details on admission, and parking fees, and everything else you need to know, may be found here. As for what's blooming a few weeks from spring's start? Look for Japanese plum and camellia, picturesque blossoms that add even more ethereal wonder to a wonderful day.