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Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival



The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival is held yearly in April in San Francisco’s Japantown. The festival first originated in 1968 as a way to promote culture as the unifying bridge between the United States and Japan. It is known as one of the most prominent and notable cherry blossom festivals outside of Japan and takes after the widely celebrated Sakura Matsuri held in Japan during the springtime. 

To follow the typical cherry blossom season in Japan, the NCCBF takes place over the course of two weekends in early to mid-April, when cherry blossoms are in bloom. A variety of showcases and interactive events are held throughout the festival to encourage attendees to interact with Japanese and Japanese American culture and the community. 


A range of festivities and performances are held during the festival to showcase aspects of Japanese and Japanese American culture.


The festivities include interactive displays of bonsai 盆栽 (miniature trees) and suiseki 水石 (miniature landscapes), chanoyu 茶の湯 (Japanese tea ceremony), ikebana 生花 (flower arrangement), Japanese doll making 人形, Japanese swords 日本刀, kendama けん玉 (a Japanese toy), origami 折紙 (folded paper), shishu 刺繍 (Japanese embroidery), Hyakunin Isshu 百人一首 (a Japanese poetry card game), and shodo 書道 (Japanese calligraphy). In addition, during the both weekends there are performances of classic Japanese dance 踊り, music 音楽, pop culture ジェイポップ, and martial arts 武道 in Japantown and in the surrounding area during the final Grand Parade that takes place on the last day of the festival.


To end the festival a mikoshi 神輿, or portable Shinto shrine, is carried through San Francisco’s Japantown. Taru Mikoshi specifically involves carrying barrels of sake 酒 (rice wine), which originated in Tokyo around the 1868 Meiji Restoration. It was originally meant to join together members of the community in celebration of the new government. Today in San Francisco, the tradition is continued annually to unite communities and show appreciation for Japanese and Japanese American culture. 


The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Today

The festival’s 50th anniversary was proudly celebrated in 2017 and despite the present circumstances due to the pandemic, the traditions of the NCCBF continue to take place. This year, the festival will happen from April 8th to 16th. For more information on this year’s NCCBF, see: 

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