This year marks the 48th anniversary of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, and to celebrate, there are going to be several noteworthy additions. The best part of these new attractions is that there’s something for everyone, so there’s no reason why the whole family can’t enjoy! Let’s take a look at what’s joining the festival this year:

1. Sakura 360
If you’ve been following our blog recently then you may already know about Sakura 360. For those who missed the announcement, this is a brand new addition to the festival that will be present on the first weekend, April 11 and 12. It aims to embody the spirit of the “new Japan”, involving fashion, gaming, and anime that are currently trending in both America and Japan. This new area, sponsored by Japan Expo, will feature local cosplayers and performers, along with all kinds of contests and fabulous prizes to be won. It’ll be located on the upper Post Street side of the festival, between Buchannan and Laguna. Be sure to check this out! Quick tip: stick around for the ‘After Party’ from 5pm-7pm on Saturday, April 11, for some extra fun and entertainment.

To stay up-to-date on Sakura 360 info, be sure to visit and ‘like’ the Facebook page.

sakura360_logo_normal

2. Hello Kitty Cafe Truck
Yes, that’s right: Hello Kitty has its own truck, and it’s coming to the festival! This is the first time the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck is making an appearance in the city, and it’s bringing lots of adorable desserts and pastries! They will be stationed at the Sanrio Hello Kitty Land area on Post and Webster street on April 11 and 12 – don’t miss it!

More info here: http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2015/03/05/hello-kitty-truck-san-francisco/

Hello_Kitty_Treats

 

 

3. Pocky truck by Glico
Hello Kitty won’t be the only ‘food truck’ around – the Glico Pocky Truck will also be at the festival to give away Pocky snacks on the first weekend, April 11 and 12. The Pocky Truck will be parked at the new Sakura 360 area on Post Street. Come get some snacks, and while you’re at it, why not take some selfies with the truck and share them on social media?

Pocky_Truck

4. Sapporo USA Beer Garden
Taking things up a notch from last year’s festival, this year will feature not one but two beer gardens! They’ll be serving crisp and refreshingly cold Sapporo Premium Beer. Come check out the 2nd beer garden in the Peace Plaza, right next to the main stage. Must be 21 or older to be admitted to the beer gardens.

If you’re a fan of Sapporo beer or just a beer aficionado in general, check out this video on how Sapporo Premium Beer is made.

5. Social Media Lounge, powered by New People
The festival’s Social Media Marketing Team is made up of a group of talented and hard working volunteers. This year, there will be a Social Media Lounge on Post Street in front of New People. Be sure to stop by the lounge to say hi, play some games to win some awesome prizes, or watch interviews with local performers, DJs, and special guests. Don’t forget to use our Hashtag #nccbf15 to share your pictures with us. We’d love to see them (and you)!

NP_LOGO

6. The Japantown Mandala Exhibition and Art Installation by Suite J-Town, a First Voice Production
This incredible new exhibition will attempt to convey – through the use of visual art, sound, video, and performance – the resilience and beauty of the Japantown community as it evolved over it’s 110-year history. Be sure to attend the opening reception of the Japantown Mandala and Multimedia Arts Installation on Thursday, April 9th. A film series will be shown on both weekends of the festival, April 11 & 12 and April 18 & 19, from 6:30pm-9pm.

You can find out more information and RSVP for the event at: https://suitejtown.squarespace.com/events/2015/4/8/art-installation

Suite J-Town

7. NCCBF App
We’re making an app for the festival! Currently under development by a team of volunteers, the NCCBF app will soon be available for both iOS and Android devices. More info is coming soon, so stay tuned!

8. New Dogwood Stamp
The USPS will be announcing a new commemorative stamp at the festival’s Opening Ceremony on 4/11. This stamp will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. giving a gift of dogwood trees to Japan in 1915.

Check out the official written announcement here.

9. Miniyonku Club
Race cars are coming to the festival! Okay, they’re actually a Japanese brand of model cars called Miniyonku – aka ‘Four Wheel Drive’. These fun-sized 1/32 scale race cars can go at speeds up to 10,000mph! The Miniyonku Club assembles and then mods these cars for racing on similarly scaled tracks. The club is making its first appearance at the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, and will be hosting an open event/tournament on April 11, 12, and 18 from 10am-3:30pm.

You can follow them on Facebook for more info and check out pics and videos of the cars: https://www.facebook.com/miniyonku.ccsf

Miniyonku_Sakura_Promo

10. Kendama USA
Kendama is a traditional Japanese ball-and-cup toy that has seen a recent resurgence in popularity in both America and Japan. Kendama USA consists of a group of pro Kendama players who have nurtured their talents to show off a variety of innovative and expressive tricks and styles. This year, the Consulate General of Japan is partnering with Kendama USA to present the first ever Northern California Kendama Championship – dubbed the “Sakura Classic”! The competition will take place on the first weekend of the festival, April 11 and 12, and culminate with a finals match on the Peace Plaza stage from 3:45pm-4:45pm on Sunday the 12th.

Be sure to follow the Kengarden tumblr page for more updates about the contest: http://kengarden.tumblr.com/

Sakura Classic Promo

Kimono is one of the most recognizable and elegant elements of the Japanese culture. Every year at The Cherry Blossom Festival a kimono is given to the queen on the coronation night. This tradition was started in 1973 and more than four decades later the queens continue to receive this generous gift courtesy of Fujiyasu Kimono Company.

kimono2014

Fujiyasu Corporation, previously Fujiyasu Shoten Co., has a long history of making and selling traditional Japanese clothing. Established as a small business with just one small shop in Shiga, Japan, the company expanded to many other parts of the country over the years. It survived The Great Kanto earthquake of 1923 and bombing raids during the Pacific War in 1945. Every time the firm was rebuilt and renewed thanks to the hard work and dedication of its owners. Despite the natural disasters and uncertain economic times, Fujiyasu Kimono Company prospers till these days.

Mr. Seishichi Ato, the fourth president of Fujiyasu, started donating kimonos to the Queen Programs of various festivals that celebrated Japanese communities in the U.S. He became one of the major benefactors of the queens for the NCCBF for presenting the kimonos. Unfortunately, Mr. Ato passed away in February of this year but he will always be remembered as someone who commenced the tradition of helping to connect Japan and its descendents in the United States.

Benh Nakajo, NCCBF Queen Program Director, perfectly described Fujiyasu Company’s contributions to the event: “Over the decades, the Cherry Blossom Festival queens have received 42 kimonos from Fujiyasu. In addition to the Queen’s kimono, the festival has also received 12 sets of full kimonos donated by Fujiyasu. Without the generosity and support of Fujiyasu, the festival and the queen program would not have been successful and sustainable for so many decades and passing on the tradition and legacy to future generations.

kimono2014b

The iconic garment of Japanese fashion is quite a generous donation considering the fact that it costs thousands of dollars. Every kimono is a unique expression of bold colors and motifs as well as symbolic meanings and conventions. It is an absolute masterpiece with an auspicious significance. It is no wonder that a single kimono takes up to a year to complete. Almost immediately after the queen gets her kimono, Fujiyasu Company starts designing and manufacturing a new one.

When Mr. Shotaro Kawazoe became the fifth President of Fujiyasu, the company has been presenting a set of Furisode kimono to the Cherry Blossom Queen in San Francisco as well as the queens in Honolulu and Washington DC annually. His successor and the current president of Fujiyasu Kimono Company, Mr. Kazunari Mochizuki kept this wonderful tradition that ties Japan with the Japanese American community. The Cherry Blossom Festival will proudly display a wide range of kimonos on April 11th, 2015 during the Queen Program.

For more information about the NCCBF Queen Program, please check HERE.

See all the collection of Fujiyasu kimonos over the decades HERE.

by Halyna Yakubovich
NCCBF Social Media Guest Blogger

sakura360_logo_normalFor the first time this year NCCBF will have an exciting new addition to its program. Sakura 360 is a brand new area of the festival that will take place during its first weekend. What can you expect from the event? Imagine a magical box that pops open with bright colors, sensational beats and sounds. Sakura 360 is that box that kindly invites you to discover what’s inside.

Sakura 360 celebrates the diverse Japanese-American community as well as J-pop culture. “The Sakura 360 area is a place where I hope the traditional Japanese culture will meet the “new” Japanese culture. As we approach the 50th anniversary, I see this area playing a pivotal role in introducing the “new” culture of Japan to our festival fans especially in the area of fashion, gaming and anime. In each of these genres, many people are fusing traditional and modern Japanese culture”, says Greg Viloria, The 2015 NCCBF Executive Chair for PR/Marketing.

The Sakura 360 extensive program has lots to offer — there will be something for every pop-culture enthusiast. Surrounded by fun activities and live performances you will be transported to a place fueled by passion and energy. You will have an opportunity to participate in numerous fun games such as Cosplay Chess where people in costumes act as life size pieces, a scavenger hunt or Sempai Says (Simon Says), and of course, receive grand prizes. The Glico Pocky Truck will be present to give away free Pocky snacks! At the end of the day, everyone will be welcome to join a magnificent cosplay gathering for photos. You will not leave #Sakura360 without great pictures and memories.

pocky10

pocky11

Make sure not miss the “After Party”, which will take place on April 11th and feature local performers. DJ Kepik, one of the most popular DJs in the San Francisco Bay Area, will also be there to share his love for electronic rhythms with the audience. This is sure to be a euphoric night of dancing and music.

We are very grateful to our sponsors for supporting this event: Samurai Geisha Festival, FUNimation, Ezaki Glico Co., Idea Factory, The Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, Crunchy Roll, and NIS America. Sakura 360 is also made possible in association with 1UP Level, GDC Event and Cosplay SF. Special thank you goes to our partner Japan Expo, the largest expo outside of Japan, for helping us with the concept of celebrating the “new” culture of Japan as well as their generous contribution to Sakura 360. This partnership enhanced the program and made it more interesting and appealing for the younger audience. Follow Japan Expo Facebook page to learn more about them.

Logos2

Sakura 360 is absolutely free and open to the public. To stay tuned to the event news and updates, please join the Sakura 360 Facebook page. For more information feel free to contact Katheryne Vu, the Producer and Area Manager: katherynevu@gmail.com.

FYI:
When: Sakura 360 will take place on April 11th from 10:00am – 7:00pm and April 12th from 10:00am – 5:00pm (“After Party” — one night only, on April 11th from 5:00 – 7:00pm).
Where: Japantown, SF. The new area is located on the upper Post Street side of the festival between Buchannan and Laguna Streets.

by Halyna Yakubovich
NCCBF Social Media Guest Blogger