Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival 50th Anniversary

Ohayou Gozaimasu!  The clouds parted just in time for the Golden Journey to celebrate 50 years of Japanese culture Saturday morning as it unfolded into a beautiful morning to kick off the 50th anniversary of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco Japantown. 


I have been attending the Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco Japantown almost every year for the past 20+ years including the 30th and the 40th, making it a no-brainer that I would partake in their 50th anniversary this year.  Spanning two weekends as usual (4/8, 4/9, 4/15, 4/16) and culminating in the Grand Parade at 1PM this coming Sunday 4/16, they had added some extras to the celebration, including extended evening hours on opening day, a scavenger hunt the first weekend and an anime film festival at New People Theater on Post Street for $13 showing classics like My Neighbor Totoro. 

Instead of the bonsai exhibit during the first weekend but returning for the second weekend, it was my first time seeing the beautiful flower arrangement exhibit which really drew me in. 



Shishu Japanese embroidery

and Washi Ningyo paper doll exhibit the first weekend



and Shodo (calligraphy) and Karuta Card Game (Poetry, Game) planned for the second, you will want to attend both. 

A complete schedule of events and parking information can be found on Northern California’s Cherry Blossom Festival’s Website and as you can see is promising another action packed second weekend perpetuating and sharing the beautiful Japanese culture. 

After years of attending one of my favorite festivals, here are my top 5 tips I have learned from through the years. 


1.      Arrive before it officially starts for the day so you can get a chance to pick up a box of mochi from Benkyodo (Sat only)

or stock up on goods from Nijiya Market before it becomes packed with literally wall to wall people.  If you spend $30+ at Nijiya, you get $2.00 of your parking at the garage. 

2.      If you are here on Saturday and are driving in, park at the garage as you have to pay parking at meters anyways and you do not want to have to run back and move your car when you have reached the maximum.  It is impossible to find parking later on.

3.      Hit the takoyaki food booth first (between 11-12) as that line will get and remain long for the rest of the day and get the 13 for $10 if you have at least 2 people.

4.      While everyone is lining up at the lunch booths, 1-2PM is the perfect time to get your fresh imagawayaki, a Japanese dessert filled with sweet azuki red bean paste made to order.  Get 2 per person as you can always pop the second into your microwave to refresh for a treat the next day. 

5.      Do attend one of the tea ceremonies and then pick up some matcha powder before leaving Japantown so you can recreate and share this important and sacred part of their culture with others. 


Arigatou Gozaimasu NCCBF for 50 wonderful years!!  Here is to the next 50!

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