Welcoming Spring with San Francisco’s 56th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival
Japantown during the Cherry Blossom Festival
Today, San Francisco’s Cherry Blossom Festival is one of the largest in the country, and captures this spirit of togetherness and community. This year, the Festival will be held on April 8-9 and 15-16, at 11am-6pm in Japantown. Festival-goers can view performances, enjoy food from local vendors and restaurants, and participate in cultural activities. You can admire traditional art at the calligraphy, origami, ikebana (flower arrangement), and washi ningyo (paper doll) exhibits and demonstrations. From late March through early May, cherry trees across Japan and the U.S. burst into bloom, their delicate petals flurrying through the spring air and carpeting sidewalks like snow.
San Francisco’s Cherry Blossom Festival is rooted in the Japanese tradition of Hanami, or “flower viewing,” in which families flock to parks to have picnics and parties beneath the blossoming cherry trees. In 1968, a group of Japanese American business and community leaders started the Cherry Blossom Festival to preserve cultural traditions, support local Japantown businesses, and strengthen U.S.-Japanese relations support local Japantown businesses, and strengthen U.S.-Japanese relations. Various performances showcasing both traditional and contemporary styles of Japanese dance and music occur throughout the weekends — a crowd favorite being the annual, exhilarating taiko drum performance. Board game lovers can learn go from the SF Go Club, or watch the pros go head to head in the Cherry Blossom Go Tournament. Those interested in martial arts can visit the Japanese sword and armor exhibit and karate demonstration. On its 56th year anniversary, the Cherry Blossom Festival celebrates the vibrancy of Japanese culture and the rich heritage of the Japanese American community.
Penny Pyo '24 is a Vol. 71 Contributing Editor