Cherry Blossom Festival 2016
by Dylan Bautista
This year marks the 49th year for the Cherry Blossom Festival. It was held on April 9-10 from 10 am to 5 pm, and 16-17 from 10 am to 5 pm in Japantown in San Francisco on Post Street between Laguna and Filmore Streets, with a Grand Parade being on the 17th. The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival is said to be the second largest festival outside of Washington D.C., which celebrates the blooming of cherry blossoms at one of the three remaining Japantowns in the United States. It is one of California’s most prominent celebrations of Asian Traditions. Each year, over 200,000 people attend this dazzling display showcasing the color and grace of the Japanese culture and the diversity of the Japanese American Community. Many were welcome to join in the festivities as San Francisco’s Japantown celebrated Japanese and Japanese-American culture. There were numerous food booths, cultural performances, J-Pop, many fantastic and kawaii cosplay (like Saitama from One Punch Man and Sailor Mars from Sailor Moon), taiko drumming, martial arts, live bands, DJs, Japanese games, a Lolita fashion show, Japanese doll displays, and the annual Queen Program.
There was also a Hello Kitty Treat Truck which sold cakes, donuts, macarons, and other sweets, and of course Hello Kitty swag like water bottles.
There was the 2016 Sakura Classic Kendama Chapmionships, where you could watch the top pros demonstrate the high level of skills of freestyle kendama play and learn how to play yourself.
Once you were done with experiencing the Cherry Blossom Festival outside, you could head inside Japantown’s mall, Japan Center, to experience the festival even more.
Inside, you can visit multiple shops, where they sell anime merchandise such as plushes and figures (called Nendroids), you can experience fine Japanese cuisine, buy some milk tea, purchase some artwork from various artists scattered around, take a picture with/of a cosplayer, or hang out in the arcade to play some Japanese games. I was able to find Sora from Kingdom Hearts and Deadpool walking around.
Sophomore Jerry Cheng said, “The Cherry Blossom Festival this year was very fun. I enjoyed being able to immerse myself in the Japanese Culture. Plus, I was able to buy a lot of anime stuff. This is my 4th year going to the Cherry Blossom Festival, and I hope to go again next year for my 5th time.”
For being my first year to go to the Cherry Blossom festival, it was an amazing experience. I really enjoyed allowing myself to experience all that Japantown had to offer this year. I will be returning next year the the 50th Cherry Blossom Festival, and I am hoping that it will be better than this year’s. Until then, Sayōnara!