Diplomacy Grows on Trees

San Francisco’s Cherry Blossom Festival is one of Northern California’s pre-eminent Asian American traditions. It sees more than 200,000 people flock to Japantown each year for what has become one of the largest celebrations of Japanese culture in the nation -- second only to that in Washington, D.C. Now in its 45th year, the Cherry Blossom Festival presents two weekends of free, family-friendly fun. The streets of J-town spring to life with cultural performances, martial arts demonstrations, bands, and the crowning of the annual Cherry Blossom Festival queen. Arts, crafts, and food booths hosted by local nonprofit groups are scattered throughout a 5-acre expanse. It includes a dedicated kids’ corner with games and prizes featuring Hello Kitty and her friends. The festival commemorates the gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Tokyo Mayor Yukio Ozaki to the city of Washington, D.C., in 1912 -- a symbol of the growing friendship between Japan and the United States. Only three official Japanese communities remain in the nation (all of them in California), and San Francisco’s festival embodies the tenacity and enduring spirit of this diplomatic pursuit.
Saturdays, Sundays, 11 a.m. Starts: April 14. Continues through April 22, 2012

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