Past weekend I decided to push my midterm paper aside, and go out for some fresh air. Tis the season for some Cherry Blossom in Japan, but there was no need to rush there right away, because San Francisco has its own Cherry Blossom Festival right at Japantown.

This year, San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival is celebrating its 45th anniversary (while Washington D.C. National Cherry Blossom Festival is celebrating its 100th anniversary). It is estimated that over 200, 000 people come to the SF festival, with over 30 shows, exhibits, and hands-on activities available per day. The festival lasts over 2 weekends, and on the very last Sunday a grand parade will be presented as the finale April 22nd.

Come join me for a peek at what I saw this past weekend at the festival portion.

The flower blossoms, the sun shines, the crowds are high, it was definitely a great day for the festival to begin its celebration.

The crowds gathered and anticipated the first show of the day (Above).

(Above) First video I made! A segment of the taiko drum performance to get everyone in spirit!

Then I went to visit a show room full of weapons and armors. It was interesting to learn that samurai warriors do not wear jewelry at all, so the decorated scabbard of the sword is the only fancy jewel that the samurai have with them. Decorations can signify the person’s alliance and rank, but some are purely artistic decorations.

I went to look at the Japanese embroidery exhibit, and found this guy sticking out among the Asian ladies in the room. Apparently before he decided to jump into the world of embroidery, he has never used a needle before. Now he is at level 7 course (level 10 is the highest).

Embroidery is usually used on Kimonos, and some on the obi(belt).

Then I wondered my way to a tea ceremony. There are several schools here in San Francisco that teaches tea ceremony on a weekly basis. Each school has its own style of procedures. Interestingly enough, tea ceremony use to be performed by men.

After the ceremony, 20 people in the audience also got the chance to try the tea and the snacks served in the ceremony.The dessert served was red bean cake. The sweetness of red bean cake is a perfect combination to offset the bitterness of the tea.

Lots of paper crane were made to be sent to the villages that suffered from tsunami in Japan.

Then I to see Ikebana: Japanese flower arrangement. In the old days, girls from wealthy families would be trained on Ikebana. My mom actually also learned some Ikebana before she was married.

I got a little hungry, so I decided to walk to the food stands….

Food is a big part of the festival. There are many food stands around, selling Japanese small eats like takoyaki, yakisoba, udon, spam musubi…etc.

I had to get this round red bean cake. Perhaps because Japan ruled Taiwan for 50 years and different cultures converge, we have these in Taiwan today at traditional markets still. I use to buy these every week after school when I was in kindergarten. Here is a video of how they make these red bean cake!

Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco is a great festival for families and friends to go to. If you do your homework and study their event program, you will find lots of  hands on activities throughout the day for free. If you missed the festival this past weekend, come April 21-22nd. Admission is free, except on some specific activities noted. If you need parking, arrive early. I arrived at about 11am, an hour later when I went back to check on my car, there were no more parking spots left in the surround neighborhood! Also remember to bring cash for the food stands.

Public Transportation: Muni’s #38

Location: Japantown Center, San Francisco, CA

Remaining Festival Date: April 21-22

Time: 11am-5pm