A Japantown in Bloom

Japanese culture is firmly a part of San Francisco, and Japantown’s Northern California Cherry Blossom Fest is a showcase for learning about it.

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Courtesy of Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival

To get acquainted in an Amazing Racelike style, join in on the festival’s scavenger hunt. It sets participants out exploring onto the neighborhood’s streets and plazas that are bursting with pink and white blossoms.

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Courtesy of Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival

Another way to gain fluency is to sign on for a workshop in origami, karuta (a poetry card game), chanoyu (tea ceremony) or shamisen (three-stringed instrument). Perhaps the biggest import these days, J-Pop, is well represented on stage and in venues that host cosplay, manga, anime, and Japanese cinema.

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Courtesy of Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival

The Cherry Blossom Fest stretches over two weekends April 13th-14th and 20th-21st, culminating with the Grand Parade, where 150 people are needed to carry the 1,000-pound Mikoshi, a portable Shinto shrine.