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 2014 festival is on April 12-13 and April 19-20, 2014.
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 20 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.
The parade concludes in Japantown near the Peace Plaza on Post Street at 3 PM. Here is a map showing the typical 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.
Here is what you can expect at this year's San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival.
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.
In 2014, they perform at the following times on the Peace Plaza Stage:
They also had another performance on the small stage (JCCCNC):
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.
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.
Every year, there is also a special game and craft area for kids. The Sanrio Kids Corner features Hello Kitty and her friends.
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.
Here is the full schedule for the first weekend, April 12 & 13:
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
3:45-4:15: Sakura Minyo Doo Koo Kai
4:15-4:45: Tojokan Shinkendo Dojo
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)
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
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.:
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:
Here is the full schedule for the second weekend, April 19 - 20:
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
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
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:
Are you still looking for a hotel for your stay? Here are several recommendations based on budget, amenities and neighborhood.
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
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