San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival

Event Schedule & Other Tips to Attend the 2015 Festival in Japantown

The Japantown neighborhood comes to life in the spring when the cherry blossoms start to bloom. This is also when more than 200,000 people flock to Japantown for the annual San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival.

SF's Cherry Blossom Festival started in 1967. Since then, it's grown to one of the largest Cherry Blossom Festivals in the US.

The 2015 festival is on April 11-12 and April 18-19.

This two weekend long celebration includes traditional music, dance and other cultural activities.

During the festival, you can also sample a variety of Japanese and Japanese American cuisines. These include popular dishes such as fresh sushi, tempura, and chicken or beef teriyaki.

Another highlight of this SF event is the Grand Parade. It is on Sunday, April 19 and starts at City Hall around 1 PM on Polk Street near McAllister. The parade then follows Polk Street north to Post Street and turns left toward Japantown.

sf peace pagoda

The parade concludes in Japantown near the Peace Plaza on Post Street at 3 PM. Here is a map showing the typical parade route.

cherry blossom parade route

Most of the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival events are held in or near Japantown's Peace Plaza at Post and Buchanan Streets.

Events at the 2015 Festival

Here is what you can expect at this year's San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival.

Taiko Drum Performances

This is one my favorite things to see each year at the Cherry Blossom Festival. The Taiko Drum was originally used as a way to ward off evil spirits and pests from harming the crops.

Over the years, it was used less frequently in the Japanese culture and this art faded away. However, in recent years, Taiko Drum enthusiasts began a revival effort and now it's performed in Japanese cultures throughout the world.

Here are a few pictures of them in action.

taiko dojo

taiko dojo in sf

cherry blossom taiko dojo

The 2015 dates are still TBD and will be announced about a month before the festival. They often play both Saturdays around noon and the first Sunday around 1pm. They also have longer paid performance on the second Saturday night. I'll update this with exact dates and times once they are final.

Chanoyu - The Tea Ceremony

Another traditional Japanese art is the Tea Ceremony. Throughout the San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival, you'll get the chance to watch and learn more about this well-known Japanese ceremony.

Japanese Music and Dance

Another highlight of the festival is the traditional Japanese music and dance. You will get the chance to listen to the music from a Koto, or Japanese harp. This is one of the most popular Japanese musical instruments.

You also get the chance to see Minyo, which is a traditional Japanese Folk Dance and Song. This has been handed down from generation to generation and has evolved over the years.

They usually have several performances both weekends.

Sanrio Kids Corner

Every year, there is also a special game and craft area for kids. The Sanrio Kids Corner features Hello Kitty and her friends.

saniro corner

Some of the games here in past years have included the Hello Kitty Spin & Win and Characters Sand Painting. In the past, there was an extra charge for this which was around $10 per child.

Full Schedule of Events

NOTE: The full schedule for 2015 is not yet available. All scheduling below is from 2014. The schedule is similar from year to year and I will update it once the 2015 details are available.

Here is the full schedule for the first weekend, April 12 & 13:

Saturday, April 12
Peace Plaza Stage

12:15-1:15: San Francisco Taiko

1:15-1:30: Opening Ceremony and Scholarship Presentation

1:30-2:00: Michiya Hanayagi and Michisuya Hanayagi Kai

2:00-2:30: Nihon Buyo Kiyonomoto

2:30-3:00: World Oyama Karate

3:00-3:15: Children's Tsuzumi Challenge

3:15-3:45: Essence

3:45-4:15: Sakura Minyo Doo Koo Kai

4:15-4:45: Tojokan Shinkendo Dojo

4:45-5:15: KANA

5:15 - 5:30: UC Berkeley Yosakoi Group

12:30-1:30: Japanese Music Institute of America

1:30-3:00: Minyo Minbu Festival

3:00-3:30: Ikebana Demonstration - Ohara Ikebana School

3:30-4:00: Marimo-Kai and Yukari Sakaguchi

4:00-4:30: Ikebana Demonstration - Sogetsu School

6:00-8:00: Shigin (Japanese Poetry in Singing Form)

Sunday, April 13
Peace Plaza Stage

11:30 - 12:00: Yamasho-Kai

12:00-12:30: CBF 2014 Queen and Court

12:30-1:30: San Francisco Taiko Dojo

1:30-2:00: Soko Joshi Dojo

2:00-2:30: Ensohza Minyoshi

2:30-3:00: San Francisco Wushu Team

3:00-3:30: Shorinji Kempo

3:30-3:45: Japanese Club of Sacred Heart Cathedral Preparatory

4:45-4:00: Yoko & Sunshine Ladies

4:00 - 4:30: KANA

12:00-1:00: Seiha Sato Masazuka

1:00-1:30: Kiyonomoto Ryu

1:30-2:00: Ikebana Demonstration - Ikenobo Ikebana

2:00-3:00: Tamie Kooyegna & Koto Harmonia

3:00-3:30: Nishikawa Ryu

3:30-4:00: Ikebana Demonstration - Wafu School of Ikebana

4:00-5:00: Shimaoko Kazusa-kai

Other Events on Saturday, April 12 & Sunday, April 13

JCCCNC Issei Memorial Hall: April 12 & 13-Ikebana Exhibit, from 11am to 5pm

JCCCNC Classroom One: April 12 & 13-Washi Ningyo Classes from 11am to 5pm

JCCCNC Classroom Two: April 12 & 13, Shishu, 11am to 4pm

Tateuchi Auditorium (NLF) at 1830 Sutter St.:

  • April 12 - Chado Urasenke Tankokai Tea Ceremony -- 1, 2, 3, 4pm
  • April 13 - Omotosenke Domonkai Tea Ceremony -- 1, 2, 3, 4 pm demonstrations

JACL at 1765 Sutter St.: April 12 & 13 - Origami Exhibit and Demonstration, 11am to 5pm

Union Bank Hospitality Room at 1675 Post St. (East Mall): April 12 & /13 - Japanese Sword Club, 11am to 5pm

Sequoia’s at 1400 Geary Blvd: April 12, 3:00 pm - 4pm, "Program of Music"

NJAHS at 1684 Post Street: April 12 & 13, 12pm to 5pm - "Blossoms 7 Thorns: A Community Uprooted"

Performances on the Webster Street Stage:

  • April 12:
    • 12:30 pm to 1:30 pm: Big City Revue
    • 2:00 pm to 3:00 pm: Pulse
    • 3:30 pm to 4:30 pm: Snug
  • April 13:
    • 12:30 to 1:30: Blue Shadows
    • 1:30 to 1:45: Nesya (from Japan)
    • 2:00 to 3:00: Jose Najera's Bernal Beat
    • 3:30pm to 4:30pm: Just Jammin

Here is the full schedule for the second weekend, April 19 - 20:

Saturday, April 19
Peace Plaza Stage

12:00-12:30: San Francisco Taiko Dojo

12:30-1:00: Grass Valley Taiko

1:00-1:30: Rosa Parks School Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program

1:30-2:00: Zanshin Dojo

2:00-2:15: Children's Tsuzumi Challenge

2:15-2:30: Ryuji Tachibana of Nichibei Shinzen

2:30-2:45: Ms. Mayo Amachi of Mayo Crystal Voice Music

2:45-3:00: El Cerrito High School Japanese Club

3:00-3:30: San Francisco Okinawa Kenjin Kai

3:30-4:00: Rinka Buyo Group

4:00-4:30: Northern California Naginata Federation

4:30-5:00: Deigo Musume and Shima Deiku

5:00-5:30: Recreation Dance from Roppongi, Tokyo

1:00-2:00: Wesley Ukulele Band

2:00-2:30: Gen Ryu Arts Presents - Gen Ensemble

2:30-3:00: Chorale May

3:00-4:00: Northern California Seiha USA Orchestra

4:00-4:30: Aloha Station from Roppongi, Tokyo

7:00: Taiko Festival by San Francisco Taiko Dojo

Sunday, April 20
Peace Plaza Stage

11:00-12:00: San Francisco Kendo Dojo

12:00-12:30: Enshin Karate

12:30-1:00: Nishi Kaigan Iaido Dojo

3:30 -4:00: Awakko-Ren

4:00-5:00: "Soulit - Japanese Funk-Soul"

5:00: 2014 CBF Raffle Drawing

Other Events on Saturday, April 19 & Sunday, April 20

JCCCNC Issei Memorial Hall: April 19 & 20 - Bonsai Exhibit from 10am to 4pm

JCCCNC Classroom One: April 19 & 20 - Karuta, 11am to 3pm

JCCCNC Classroom Two: April 19 & 2 - Shodo (Calligraphy) Exhibit and Demonstration, 11am to 4pm

Tateuchi Auditorium (NLF) at 1830 Sutter St: April 19 - Urasenke Foundation Tea Ceremony -- 1, 2, 3, 4 pm demonstrations

JACL at 1765 Sutter St: April 1 & 201 - Origami Exhibit and Demonstration, from 11am to 5pm

Union Bank Hospitality Room at 1675 Post St. (East Mall): April 20/21 - Mataro Dolls Exhibit

NJAHS at 1684 Post St.: April 19 & 20 from 12pm to 5pm, "Blossoms & Thorns: A Community Uprooted"

Webster Street Stage:

  • April 19:
    • 11:00 to 12:00: Soulit (from Japan)
    • 12:30 to 1:30: MI Band
    • 2:00 to 3:00: In the Mix
    • 3:30 to 4:30: D. Groove
  • April 20:
    • 3:00 to 4:00: Rendezvous

San Francisco Hotels

Are you still looking for a hotel for your stay? Here are several recommendations based on budget, amenities and neighborhood.

Tips for Visiting Japantown

Are you looking for other things to do in Japantown? Do you need a hotel near the festival?

On this page, you'll find out other top activities in Japantown, recommendations for top hotels and some of my favorite restaurants in this SF neighborhood. You will also find the best public transportation options to get to the festival.

Learn More: Japantown

Other Places in SF to See Flowers in Bloom this Spring

japanese tea garden sf botanical gardens conservatory of flowers
Japanese Tea
Conservatory of Flowers

Other Top Events in April

sf theater sf giants sf chinatown
April Theater
SF Giants Home Schedule
Full April 2014

> > Cherry Blossom Festival 2015

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