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March 18th, 2024

Local Tips to Enjoy the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival

Art & Culture

Spring has sprung! The season has arrived when the city of San Francisco is dyed in cherry blossom pink! The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival is a beloved spring tradition in San Francisco’s Japantown, and this year marks its 57th annual year! You can a dazzling display of Japanese culture, featuring arts & crafts sales & exhibits, live music and dance performances, martial arts demonstrations, tea ceremonies, food, and a grand parade to wrap it up! This festival also has a variety of programs specifically for children, so the entire family can have some fun. Experience Japanese culture and celebrate the arrival of spring – right here in San Francisco, California!


Be sure to check out the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival happening for two weekends in April, as this year marks the final opportunity to experience SF Japantown’s Peace Plaza in its current form before the renovations commence. Following the Cherry Blossom Festival, the space will undergo a much anticipated transformation!

Location: San Francisco’s Japantown Peace Plaza 1610 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94115

Dates: April 13th-14th & April 20th-21st, 2024

Hours: The Festival grounds at Japantown are open to the public between 11AM and 6PM on all four days. 

Access: Visitors are encouraged to take public transportation or use a rideshare service as parking is limited during the festival. Admission is FREE to the public!



For two festive weekends, the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival will be partnering with local SF community organizations, Japantown venues, and even friends overseas in Japan to organize a few special events:

Mikoshi Purification Ceremony

This ceremony is conducted every year and represents rites that help bring peace and harmony to the Festival areas. Witness the Phoenix statue procession, purification ceremony, mochi pounding ceremony, and kagami biraki – the breaking of the sake barrels!  

Bonsai & Suiseki

The Bonsai & Suiseki exhibit displays the collaborative effort of bonsai and suiseki clubs in the SF Bay Area. The art form of bonsai captures the grandeur and beauty of nature on a reduced scale, producing miniature trees and plants. Similarly, naturally occurring and expressive stones at are categorized as suiseki are used to create landscapes like montains and waterfalls. Be sure to check out this exhibit during the second festival weekend!


CHA-NO-YU (literally, hot water for tea) or SA-DO (also CHA-DO, the Way of Tea) is one of the most highly refined traditional arts of Japan, and an important influence on Japanese architecture, landscape gardening, ceramics and floral arts. Chanoyu has also shaped many of the artistic values and social etiquette observed by the Japanese people. Chanoyu demonstrations will be taking place in the Tateuchi Auditorium within the Nihonmachi Little Friends building at 1830 Sutter Street. Join a session to learn more!


Experience contemporary and traditional styles of odori (Japanese dance) on the Japantown Peace Plaza Stage, the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC/the Center) Stage, and the Grand Parade!


The Festival welcomes Akita Inus and Shiba Inus (and their owners!) to participate in informational meet and greet booths and to stroll in the Grand Parade.

Doll Making

Favored by girls in Japan since the early 1500’s, Washi Ningyo (3D Japanese paper dolls) originated from paper dolls called Anesama Ningyo (flat dolls). You can learn Japanese culture and history as you make the doll by hand, using special Japanese Washi paper and cotton.


Ikebana is one of the most famed Japanese traditional arts and traces its origin back hundreds of years. This art of flower arrangement is now practiced in most of the contemporary world as a seasonal design element placed throughout the home. All demonstrations and displays will be held during the first festival weekend at the Issei Memorial Hall in the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California.

Japanese Pop Culture

Japanese pop culture forms reflect classical Japanese arts, aesthetics, and traditions, as well as gain inspiration from western influences to produce fun entertainment for contemporary Japanese and enthusiast audiences, to provide opportunities to escape from the everyday realities of modern life. Find Japanese pop culture activities, contests, and performances in the Sakura 360 Area, the Japantown Peace Plaza Stage, and the Grand Parade.

Martial Arts

Learn about the ways of the mind, body and spirit through many unique forms of Japanese martial arts including judo, karate, kendo, naginata, and shorinji kempo. Enjoy an exciting variety of demonstrations on the Japantown Peace Plaza stage, showcasing the physicality and strength of our San Francisco Bay Area practitioners.


The Festival features many facets of traditional and contemporary Japanese music culture. Performing artists sing and play live music with Japanese instruments including the harp (Koto), flute (Shakuhachi), three-stringed instrument (Shamisen/Sangen), and drum (Taiko). Experience and feel the passion of each of the talented artists as they perform for the audience at the Japantown Peace Plaza Stage and the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC/the Center) Stage!


Origami means “folded paper” and encompasses the art of paper folding. While simple origami figures can be produced in less than 10 steps, more complex shapes require several hundred folds and are mastered by a select few who studied origami for many years. One such expert is San Francisco native, Linda Mihara, who practiced folding origami since the age of five. Her grandfather, Tokinobu Mihara, wrote two of the first origami books in the English language. The origami exhibit and demonstration has been a part of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival since its inception in 1968.


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 traditional Japanese embroidery study group learns the techniques used for embroidery on kimono and obi. These embroideries are silk on silk with some techniques unique to Japan. Stop by Classroom 2 in the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC/the Center) during the first festival weekend to catch these artists in action!


Shodo or Japanese calligraphy is the fine art of using bamboo brush and ink for drawing characters by clearing the mind to create letters in fluid motion. The way in which lines are drawn—whether at the beginning or the end, and direction—is important in creating harmony and balance. Even empty space has meaning. Shoyukai supports calligraphy education, demonstrations, and active participation at a variety of events and festivals like this one. Shoyukai will host demonstrations of Kanji, Kana, Hiragana, Katakana, and Sumie (or pictures drawn with sumi, or bamboo soot ink) during the second festival weekend in Classroom 1 of the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC/the Center).


Based in San Francisco’s Japantown, the Northern California Japanese Sword Club is the oldest club in the United States dedicated to the study and appreciation of Japanese swords and armor, with their related history and art. They typically meet on the third Sunday of each month at the Japanese Cultural and Community Center of Northern California (JCCCNC/the Center) from 12:30 to 3:30 P.M. PT. Join them on the first festival weekend in the Union Bank Community Room, located across from the Daiso store in the Japan Center Mall East, to see swords, armor, sword guards, and related art up close and personal.

Grand Parade

To top it all off, the Grand Parade on 4/21 will be the highlight of the festival. Streams of colorful floats will be carrying individuals of Japanese American and other Asian American communities. Japanese classical (Buyo) and folk (Minyo) dance groups from around the U.S. and Japan will perform throughout the parade route like a myriad of floating butterflies. Highly honored Boy Scout Troops from the Japanese American communities will march proudly along the streets. The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and her Court, as well as sister festival courts will cascade their way to Japantown in beautiful floats. Anchoring the parade is the hoisting of the San Francisco Taru Mikoshi by over one hundred strong individuals. It is a spectacle not to be missed, so be sure to come on out to cheer on the hundreds of participants! The Grand Parade will begin at Civic Center Plaza at 1 p.m. and proceed north on Polk Street before turning west onto Post Street and finishing in Japantown.

Enjoy a heart-warming time by eating delicious food, watching a gorgeous parade, and admiring the beautiful cherry blossoms! 
This event is family friendly. For more information, check out their official website at: 


Don’t forget – Stanford Court is at the center of it all.

We want you to stay in the know and be a part of everything San Francisco has to offer. That’s why we share the top things to do in San Francisco with you, to ease your vacation planning and set you up for the perfect San Francisco adventure. Book your stay, immerse yourself in the City by the Bay and then retreat to your modern home away from home!


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