The very first Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival took place in April of 1968 right after the opening of the Japan Trade Center (now Japan Center Malls), and we are grateful for the many local community groups who came together in a spirit of unity to contribute their cultural crafts. Over five decades later, the Festival has grown to encompass the many facets of traditional and contemporary Japanese and Japanese American culture. Learn more about our cultural programs that take place over the course of the Festival’s two weekends.

Photo of Bonsai Bonsai 盆栽 & Suiseki 水石 - Miniature Japanese trees, natural stone artwork and appreciation Sunday, April 11th at approx. 5:05 P.M. PT: Samuel Tan, president of Bonsai Society of San Francisco will describe the background and history of bonsai, and share an overview on how to cultivate a bonsai project at home. The art form of bonsai captures the grandeur and…
Tea Ceremony Chanoyu 茶の湯 - Way of Tea Saturday, April 10th at approx. 4:21 P.M. PT: Omotesenke Domonkai presents “Japanese Tea Culture – The Omotesenke Tradition,” provided by their headquarters in Kyoto, Omotesenke Fushin’an. The Northern California Region of Omotesenke Domonkai was founded in 1970, where Omotesenke Tea parishioners in the Bay Area were invited to drink tea and work…
Japanese Buyo Dance 踊り - Read about this year’s performers on the 2021 Performer Profiles page. Nihon Buyo, or classical Japanese dance, is a theatrical drama with music and dance derived from the Kabuki tradition. Similar types of Kabuki music are seen in Nihon Buyo performances. Music types include Nagauta, Kiyonomoto, and Gidayu. Singers are accompanied by musicians who play…
Karuta card game Hyakunin Isshu 百人一首 - There is no scheduled programming for Karuta in the 2021 Festival, but we hope to bring this back in the 2022 Festival. Karuta (Japanese poetry card game) At our next in person Festival, join the San Francisco Karuta Kai and Satsuki-kai Hyakunin Isshu Club to play, Hyakunin Isshu, or “One Hundred Poems by One Hundred Poets.”…
ikebana Ikebana 生花 - Flower Arrangement Saturday, April 17th at approx. 3:10 P.M. PT: The Ikebana Teachers’ Federation presents demonstrations from the four largest schools of ikebana in the Bay Area: Ikenobo, Ohara, Sogetsu, and Wafu. Ikenobo: Sandra HatcherOhara: Yoshiko Suiyo GilliSogetsu: Jane Suiei NaitoWafu: Lena Hoku-o Pavlovskaia Ikebana is one of the most famed Japanese traditional arts, and…
Washi Ningyo Japanese Doll Making 人形 - Washi Ningyo, Mataro Dolls April 11th at approx. 3:37 PM PT: Washi Ningyo Virtual Exhibit (including an in-depth look at Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Grand Parade, cherry blossom celebration set, and specialty dolls) by instructors, Rochelle Lum and Yurie Nakamura, and their students. Washi Ningyo 和紙人形 (3D Japanese Paper Dolls) Favored by girls in…
Shimisen Japanese Music 音楽 - The Festival offers many facets of Japanese music culture. From the Japanese drum (Taiko), harp (Koto), and flute (Shakuhachi), to the three-stringed instrument (Shamisen/Sangen), you can experience and feel the passion of each of the talented artists as they perform for the audience. Read about this year’s performers on the 2021 Performer Profiles page. Preview…
Cosplay Parade Japanese Pop Culture ジェイポップ - There is no scheduled programming for J-Pop in the 2021 Festival, but we hope to bring this back in the 2022 Festival. Considered on of Japan’s biggest exports, Japanese pop culture (J-Pop) not only reflects the attitudes and concerns of the present but also provides a link to the past. Japanese cinema, cuisine, television programs,…
Japanese Swords Japanese Swords 日本刀 - Appreciation of Japanese swords and armor Saturday, April 17th at approx 3:48 PM PT: Northern California Japanese Sword Club will share a virtual demonstration of Japanese swords and armor. Northern California Japanese Sword Club Based in San Francisco’s Japantown, the Northern California Japanese Sword Club is the oldest club in the United States dedicated to…
2015 Sakura classic Winner Kendama けん玉 - There is no scheduled programming for Kendama in the 2021 Festival, but we hope to bring this back in the 2022 Festival. Kendama is a traditional Japanese toy. The kendama is made up of the “Ken” (handle), three cups and the “Tama” (ball) connected by a string. Made of wood, the ends of the base…
Martial Arts Martial Arts 武道 - Learn about the ways of the mind, body and spirit through many unique forms of Japanese martial arts like karate, judo, and kendo. At our next in-person Festival, enjoy an exciting variety of demonstrations on the Peace Plaza stage, showcasing the physicality and strength of our San Francisco Bay Area practitioners. Read about this year’s…
Red Dragon Origami Origami 折紙 - The Art of Paperfolding Sunday, April 11th at approx. 4:17 P.M. PT: Origami with Linda Mihara, learn how to fold Flying Paper Cranes! You will need a 10 inch by 10 inch origami paper to get started. Sunday, April 18th at approx. 3:44 P.M. PT: Origami with Linda Mihara, learn how to fold a modular…
Japanese Embroidery Shishu 刺繍 - Japanese Traditional Embroidery There is no scheduled programming for Shishu in the 2021 Festival, but we hope to bring this back in the 2022 Festival. Silk and metal thread embroidery was introduced to Japan from China through Korea, and over 1,000 years has developed into traditional Japanese embroidery by the designs and materials used. The…
Shodo Calligraphy Shodo 書道 - Saturday, April 17th at approx. 3:22 PM PT: Shoyukai 書友会 presents their calligraphy exhibition for all ages, showcasing the expressiveness and beautiful charm of writing words in kanji and hiragana. This video is made in collaboration with San Mateo Nippon Gakuyen, Kinmon Gakuen, and Kimochi Home Calligraphy. Rev. Masato Kawahatsu contributed the 絆 Kizuna calligraphy…
Taru Mikoshi Grand Parade Taru Mikoshi - Saturday, April 10th at approx. 3:49 P.M. PT, Soko Taru Mikoshi Ren shares a message of support for our festival, and their plans for next year’s mikoshi carrying tradition. Every year in April, Soko Taru Mikoshi Ren, also known as San Francisco Taru Mikoshi Ren, carries their Mikoshi down the streets of San Francisco’s Japantown…