|10 Exciting New Things at the 2015 Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival
By Ryan Smith
This year marks the 48th anniversary of the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, and to celebrate, there are going to be several noteworthy additions. The best part of these new attractions is that there’s something for everyone, so there’s no reason why the whole family can’t enjoy! Let’s take a look at what’s joining the festival this year:
1. Sakura 360
If you’ve been following our blog recently then you may already know about Sakura 360. For those who missed the announcement, this is a brand new addition to the festival that will be present on the first weekend, April 11 and 12. It aims to embody the spirit of the “new Japan”, involving fashion, gaming, and anime that are currently trending in both America and Japan. This new area, sponsored by Japan Expo, will feature local cosplayers and performers, along with all kinds of contests and fabulous prizes to be won. It’ll be located on the upper Post Street side of the festival, between Buchannan and Laguna. Be sure to check this out! Quick tip: stick around for the ‘After Party’ from 5pm-7pm on Saturday, April 11, for some extra fun and entertainment.
To stay up-to-date on Sakura 360 info, be sure to visit and ‘like’ the Facebook page.
2. Hello Kitty Cafe Truck
Yes, that’s right: Hello Kitty has its own truck, and it’s coming to the festival! This is the first time the Hello Kitty Cafe Truck is making an appearance in the city, and it’s bringing lots of adorable desserts and pastries! They will be stationed at the Sanrio Hello Kitty Land area on Post and Webster street on April 11 and 12 – don’t miss it!
More info here: http://insidescoopsf.sfgate.com/blog/2015/03/05/hello-kitty-truck-san-francisco/
3. Pocky truck by Glico
Hello Kitty won’t be the only ‘food truck’ around – the Glico Pocky Truck will also be at the festival to give away Pocky snacks on the first weekend, April 11 and 12. The Pocky Truck will be parked at the new Sakura 360 area on Post Street. Come get some snacks, and while you’re at it, why not take some selfies with the truck and share them on social media?
4. Sapporo USA Beer Garden
Taking things up a notch from last year’s festival, this year will feature not one but two beer gardens! They’ll be serving crisp and refreshingly cold Sapporo Premium Beer. Come check out the 2nd beer garden in the Peace Plaza, right next to the main stage. Must be 21 or older to be admitted to the beer gardens.
If you’re a fan of Sapporo beer or just a beer aficionado in general, check out this video on how Sapporo Premium Beer is made.
5. Social Media Lounge, powered by New People
The festival’s Social Media Marketing Team is made up of a group of talented and hard working volunteers. This year, there will be a Social Media Lounge on Post Street in front of New People. Be sure to stop by the lounge to say hi, play some games to win some awesome prizes, or watch interviews with local performers, DJs, and special guests. Don’t forget to use our Hashtag #nccbf15 to share your pictures with us. We’d love to see them (and you)!
6. The Japantown Mandala Exhibition and Art Installation by Suite J-Town, a First Voice Production
This incredible new exhibition will attempt to convey – through the use of visual art, sound, video, and performance – the resilience and beauty of the Japantown community as it evolved over it’s 110-year history. Be sure to attend the opening reception of the Japantown Mandala and Multimedia Arts Installation on Thursday, April 9th. A film series will be shown on both weekends of the festival, April 11 & 12 and April 18 & 19, from 6:30pm-9pm.
You can find out more information and RSVP for the event at: https://suitejtown.squarespace.com/events/2015/4/8/art-installation
7. NCCBF App
We’re making an app for the festival! Currently under development by a team of volunteers, the NCCBF app will soon be available for both iOS and Android devices. More info is coming soon, so stay tuned!
8. New Dogwood Stamp
The USPS will be announcing a new commemorative stamp at the festival’s Opening Ceremony on 4/11. This stamp will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the U.S. giving a gift of dogwood trees to Japan in 1915.
Check out the official written announcement here.
9. Miniyonku Club
Race cars are coming to the festival! Okay, they’re actually a Japanese brand of model cars called Miniyonku – aka ‘Four Wheel Drive’. These fun-sized 1/32 scale race cars can go at speeds up to 10,000mph! The Miniyonku Club assembles and then mods these cars for racing on similarly scaled tracks. The club is making its first appearance at the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, and will be hosting an open event/tournament on April 11, 12, and 18 from 10am-3:30pm.
You can follow them on Facebook for more info and check out pics and videos of the cars: https://www.facebook.com/miniyonku.ccsf
10. Kendama USA
Kendama is a traditional Japanese ball-and-cup toy that has seen a recent resurgence in popularity in both America and Japan. Kendama USA consists of a group of pro Kendama players who have nurtured their talents to show off a variety of innovative and expressive tricks and styles. This year, the Consulate General of Japan is partnering with Kendama USA to present the first ever Northern California Kendama Championship – dubbed the “Sakura Classic”! The competition will take place on the first weekend of the festival, April 11 and 12, and culminate with a finals match on the Peace Plaza stage from 3:45pm-4:45pm on Sunday the 12th.
Be sure to follow the Kengarden tumblr page for more updates about the contest: http://kengarden.tumblr.com/
Ryan Smith is a contributing author from the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival.