Cherry Blossom Fair

Last weekend, we visited San Francisco’s Japantown for opening weekend of the 42nd Annual Cherry Blossom Festival. Enjoying the spectacle of the blossoms or hanami is a centuries-old custom popularized by aristocrats in 7th century Japan, who would compose poems while viewing the ethereal trees. As in Japan, the perfectly pink cherry blossom trees are now in full bloom here in the Bay.

The San Francisco Japantown fair continues this weekend, April 18 – 19, and is a celebration of Japanese American culture including Taiko drum performances, traditional Japanese folk dance, martial arts demos, tea ceremonies, a Mataro Doll exhibit, arts & crafts displays, and of course lots of food!

The scent of grilling meats and deep-fried andagi donuts fill the air. Colorful tents line the streets, each offering up unique Japanese delicacies like takoyaki, mochi, teriyaki burgers, yakisoba, udon, yakitori, sakura popcorn, and even a few Asian fusion items like Spam musubi and lumpia.

My personal favorite of the day was the teriyaki burger – dripping with sauce on a soft, toasty bun with tomatoes and lettuce (hold the raw onions!). The long, snaking line for takoyaki was tempting, but I say just run into the nearby Nijiya Market and grab a bento box of them to-go instead!

A huge stage features Bay Area bands and guest appearances from Hello Kitty, too. On Sunday afternoon (April 19) the festival will come to an exciting close with a spectacular two hour Japanese-style parade wending its way from City Hall to Japantown.

Most events are free and the street food is delicious, so check it out this weekend!

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