This past weekend we visited our “sister city” to the north, San Franciso’s Nihonmachi (Japantown), for the 50th Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival. Through the years we had heard loads about the Festival, and we were eager to see it through our own eyes. It did not disappoint.
We visited the Festival during its second and final weekend. On Saturday, we browsed the exhibits (origami, bonsai, dolls), community booths and food and craft vendors. I don’t know what a typical festival in San Francisco is like, but this crowd was no joke. There was a line for everything!
The weather was awful on Sunday, the day of the Grand Parade. It started late, there were probably less people than usual, and we were soaked by the end. But the Parade participants definitely still gave it their all. For the first time, we got to see a Parade instead of being in it!
In terms of content, the Parade is fairly similar to the Nisei Week Grand Parade. Both contain various community groups and figures and end with a showstoppers (in this case, a large mikoshi). But what struck me about this Parade was the number of youth involved. Thinking ahead to the future of the community, this is a very encouraging sight.
Overall - as active members of the Little Tokyo community here in Los Angeles, it was great to see the Japanese and Japanese American culture thriving in Japantown, San Francisco. We were blown away by the scope and engagement of the Festival. We’re looking forward to future trips up and seeing what else they’ve got in store! If you’re in the NorCal area during April, be sure to check it out.
To learn more about the Festival, visit: https://sfcherryblossom.org/
- This is probably a given for San Francisco, but public transportation is the way to go with all the street closures. We took the 38 bus in from Powell Street BART, got off at the Laguna stop. We also took Uber on the way out.