Home  | Advertise with Us  | About Us  | Contact Us
Sunday, 26 April, 2015
Alamo Square Fillmore Jazz District Hayes Valley Nihonmachi Panhandle Bay View Bay Area
Home Page > News Headlines

Cherry Blossom Festival returns for two sparkling weekends in April

Tue, 01 Apr 2014 17:34:00
5 / 5 (5 Votes)
Article by:
Lindsay Adams
The parade with the Taru Mikoshi shrine is a highlight of the festival; weighing up to 1,000 pounds, it can require over 100 persons to carry the portable Shinto shrine. Photo via Flickr.com
This year’s Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival — said to be the second largest of its kind outside of Washington D.C. — will be held in San Francisco on Saturday and Sunday, April 12–13 and April 19–20.
   
Every year, over 200,000 people gather on Post Street between Laguna and Fillmore Streets to join the celebration that showcases both the Japanese and Japanese American cultures. Historically, the festival commemorates the 1912 gift of 3,000 cherry trees from Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo to the city of Washington, DC. The gift and annual celebration honor the lasting friendship between the United States and Japan, as well as the continued close relationship between the two countries.
   
Last year, 225,000 people from San Francisco to Tokyo attended to touch, taste, smell, hear and see the culture of Japan. As the number increases from year to year, organizers are anticipating seeing 250,000 for the city’s 47th annual festival this year.
   
For four days, San Francisco’s Japantown will be host to a wide array of events. The Taisho Koto Group from Osaka will be performing traditional Hawaiian dance, and there will be a demonstration from World Oyama Karate. Japanese musical artist Soulit and the San Francisco Taiko Dojo will perform. There will be displays of ikebana — Japanese floral arrangement — and chanoyu, Japan’s traditional tea ceremony. Competitions will take place in the festival’s golf tournament and the annual Queen Program. Spectators can watch the Grand Parade, and even take part in the Taru Mikoshi — the carrying of a portable Shinto shrine, weighing over 1,000 pounds — and there will be still more.
   
With so much celebration comes even more planning. The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival is organized primarily by over 200 volunteers. These are the people that are doing everything from picking up trash to generating social media, all in order to make the festival possible.
   
“It’s like a small company. All the pieces are important, and without each and every piece, it wouldn’t come together,” explained Greg Viloria, who serves on the executive committee as chair for social media marketing.
   
Viloria, who was hired as a community aide for Japantown’s Task Force last year, felt motivated to further become involved in his community and joined the festival’s planning committee. Although this is only his second year helping with the festival, his enthusiasm and commitment are evident.
   
“I grew up in San Francisco; once you get the — I call it a disease,” he said, laughing lightly. “To help the community, you want to keep helping it. I didn’t appreciate it before.”
   
Viloria has 50 volunteers working with him, a group so large that he needs to appoint a tier of coordinators to manage everyone. Preparation for these volunteers is year-round.  Meetings begin in September and are monthly at first, then become bi-monthly. All of the programming must be set in February, well in advance, so that marketing can begin.  The website must be posted and up to date. A preview day is held about a month before the festival to establish the events that will be taking place.
   
Being in the marketing division, Viloria and his crew are quite busy prior to the actual festival. First, the volunteers must be obtained and organized. Following that, there are interviews and press releases, reviews of Web copy, television promotions, and help with outreach.  
   
Once the festival actually takes place, the work for the volunteers does not end. Barricades need to be set up and then taken down. Technical arrangement, performer management, and audience control are required at the four to five stages. Bilingual translators are needed for the groups visiting from Japan. Servers are necessary for the food and beer booths. This year, Viloria is hoping for a live stream of the Grand Parade, which would be the first. This, too, requires volunteer work.
   
“Our focus this year, and the next two years, is to establish a good base for the 50th,” stated Viloria. “We are building up to that.”
   
With such a big event in foresight, a lot of preparation will need to be done — meaning that a lot of volunteers will be needed.
   
“We try to make it nice for them. It’s very important to you show people appreciation. They want to feel that they are making an impact, that they are doing something important,” emphasized Viloria. “There is an expression, ‘Be inclusive, not exclusive’ — this is very prominent in the Japanese culture. It’s important to make sure everyone’s voice is heard.”
   
Viloria also makes sure that all of his volunteers know the mission behind the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, which is to make sure that all of the attendees are comfortable — “inclusive, not exclusive”.
  
With a mission such as that, and with such hardworking volunteers, and with so much to explore within the Japanese culture, this year’s Cherry Blossom Festival is sure to be a success!
   
For more information about the festival, please visit the website at: www.sfcherryblossom.org.

 
 Other Articles

 
 Other News
Fillmore and Divisadero corridors get a legislative boost from the Board of Supervisors Fillmore and Divisadero...

In early November, the Board of Supervisors passed legislation to create Neighborhood Commercial Districts — NCD...

SFPD Park Station community meetings, Park Station, every second Tuesday, 6:00 p.m. SFPD Park Station...

The second Tuesday of each month, the Park Station holds a community meeting to provide input, express concerns, and...

Applications due for The Village Project Summer Enrichment Camp for ages 6–17, free Applications due for...

Register now, as space in this free 6-week summer enrichment program is limited. The Camp will run from June 8 through...

Annual NoPa Neighborhood Sidewalk Sale, Sunday, April 26, 10 a.m.–3 p.m. Annual NoPa...

The North of Panhandle neighborhood association — NOPNA — is announcing the huge third annual NoPa sidewalk...

Free yoga class for seniors, every Monday, 1:30 to 2:30, Buddhist Church of San Francisco Free yoga class for...

This class, designed especially for seniors, features a gentle form of chair yoga to maintain health, flexibility and...

One-on-one computer mentoring for seniors, JCCCNC, appointments available on April 4th, 5th, 25th at various times One-on-one computer...

Private tutoring can help you get the most out of your laptop, tablet or Smartphone by learning what YOU need to know,...

Volunteer Cuddle Club, a monthly outing to Muttville for LGBT seniors, the second Friday of each month, 2:00 p.m. Volunteer Cuddle Club,...

Open House, a nonprofit serving LGBT seniors and affiliated with the LGBT Community Center, sponsors this monthly trip...

Free recital — SFCM Faculty Artist Series | Historical Performance program, San Francisco Conservatory of Music, April 10, 8 p.m.–10.p.m. Free recital — SFCM...

This concert will be a special treat for fans of historical instruments and performances. The program will feature...

Live jazz at the Fillmore Farmers Market, every Saturday, 9 a.m.-1:00 p.m. Live jazz at the...

The Fillmore Farmers Market is the only farmers market in San Francisco, and one of the few in the nation, to offer...

Free classes in basic computer skills at the Western Addition Community Technology Center, Mondays and Wednesdays, 1:00 p.m.-3:00 p.m. Free classes in basic...

The Western Addition Community Technology Center aims to bridge the digital divide, offering a variety of classes for...



TheWesternEdition.com  | Copyright ©2010-2015, all rights reserved  | Terms of use