To Cherry Blossom or Not To Cherry Blossom...
April 5, 2012 12:05 PM   Subscribe

San Fran Filter: Visiting SF as a tourist. Cherry Blossom Festival is happening then. Is that festival worth our time?

I will be visiting San Francisco from April 18 - April 23 with friends. Doing the tourist thing. We have all visited the city at least once before, but none of us know it very well.

We have guide books, and the inter-web, and a good sense of what to see and do. But, the Cherry Blossom Festival has us confounded. We will be in the city for the final weekend of the festival. We intend to visit Japantown, probably go out for Japanese food one night - but what about the festival itself. Some of our group think it shouldn't be miss, a unique cultural event - some of our group think it is a waste of time, just another street fair.

We can't seem to get a clear answer from other sources. So, mefites, is the Cherry Blossom Festival worth attending, as a tourist with limited time in the city? Is it a worth-while cultural event, or just another street fair?

Any thoughts about this would be great appreciated.
posted by Flood to Travel & Transportation around San Francisco, CA (6 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
It's a street fair but one with a lot of meaning for people of Japanese ancestry, and lots of delicious tents/booths set up with Japanese food. Quite crowded. The parade can be fun to watch if you're in the mood for seeing all kinds of people dressed up in Japanese traditional clothing. However, I wouldn't call it a "cultural event."
posted by jasper411 at 12:12 PM on April 5, 2012

It's basically a street fair, but some of the vendors are unique -- and you'd likely see some people dressed up in loli and goth loli outfits. The Baby, the Stars Shine Bright and the Alice and the Pirates shops at the New People Buiding in Japan Town, conveniently, sell loli fasions and are worth a visit.

Tip 1: You must go to the New People Building and not just the Japan Town complex.
Tip 2: Catch a flick at the Kubuki Theater. It's, um, high-end.

I'd recommend you go to Japan Town early in your visit and decide if it's sufficiently interesting enough for you to go on the weekend. It will be very crowded during the festival.

I've been to the festival a couple times and to Japan Town at least a hundred times, but I only live a relatively short distance away.
posted by rw at 1:45 PM on April 5, 2012

I went last year and had a great time. I live in the Bay Area and it had been a long time since I was in Japantown. Yes, there were a number of vendors you could have seen an any street fair but many were unique and some of them were amazing. We went to the special demonstration on the traditional tea ceremony and it was fascinating. Later on, a demonstration of martial arts had us spellbound. I guess what I liked best was the mixture of an interesting street fair with the opportunity to wander through the many unusual shops of Japantown. It will be crowded. I would say that if the Cherry Blossom Festival is the only reason you are going, you might be disappointed. On the other hand, if you would like to explore the shops of Japantown as well, it's a great combination.
posted by Sculthorpe at 2:27 PM on April 5, 2012

We go every year and love it. We aren't Japanese but have many friends who are. It's not hard to get to from downtown and would be worth an hour or two. Japantown is a great place to visit and eat! Second New People. Also, the mochi shop at Sutter and the Buchanan Street mall is excellent.
posted by mamabear at 4:51 PM on April 5, 2012

If you go to Japantown for any reason, please promise me that you will go to Mifune (under the bridge) and have a lovely bowl of ramen. If you like delicious, delicious noodle soups, you will thank me.

And yes, the Cherry Blossom Festival is a good time.
posted by Pecinpah at 6:35 PM on April 5, 2012

Thank you all for your input
posted by Flood at 4:36 AM on April 6, 2012

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