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Tuesday 23 April 2013

Cherry Blossom Festival

I mentioned earlier that we had a festival filled weekend. We've already seen our Saturday at Cal Day now let's have a look at our Sunday spent in San Francisco's Japantown for the annual Cherry Blossom Festival...

Hello Kitties!

Cherry Blossom Festival is an annual event held every April over two weekends. This year's festival was held on the 13th, 14th, 20th and 21st of April so it's all over again for another year.


We took the girls to Cherry Blossom Festival last year and the definite highlight of their day was meeting Hello Kitty and having their photo taken with her. This year was no exception and meeting Hello Kitty was the first thing we did when we arrived in Japantown.

Our photo with Hello Kitty included a goodie bag with stickers, a fan and Hello Kitty ears as well as face painting to complete the look. Lola was scared to get her face painted so I had mine done as well in the hope that it would encourage her to be brave. It didn't work but Lola did find it amusing! 
On a side note... while in Japantown no-one looked twice at my whiskers and yellow nose, however, much later when we were in Union Square I was getting quite a few odd looks from passersby. It took me a while to work out why!

Kitty family


We had hoped to spend some time in Sanrio Kids' Corner where the girls could play Hello Kitty games, win Hello Kitty prizes and make Hello Kitty crafts. However it turns out that the Kids' Corner wasn't held on Sunday due the parade. The girls were pretty upset as this was the major selling point of the festival for them. I was upset as this was not noted on the official Cherry Blossom Festival website. We missed out on the Sanrio Kids' Corner last year as well as they decided to close up three hours early the day that we attended. Fingers crossed we'll have better luck next year. In the meantime the girls played a few games in the Sanrio store (where we met Hello Kitty) and in a nearby game parlour. They also had fun checking out all the Hello Kitty goodies for sale in the Sanrio store.

Lola spins up the grand prize

Be the crane Ava, be the crane

Can we take them home? Pleeeeeease!

Hello Kitty chicken drumstick?

Sunday was the last day of Cherry Blossom Festival and to mark the finale there was a parade celebrating Japanese culture and history. We managed to find a shady spot out of the sun along the parade route and sat down to watch the drummers, dancers, beauty queens, local politicians, school groups and the odd nappy clad old man make their was down the street. Yes, you read that last one correctly. You'll see him in the photos!

The parade featured lots of interesting instruments

A dragon

These things were popular throughout the parade

The girls liked these flat drums

There were a lot of these mini pagodas featured in the parade

Cherry Blossom queen and princesses

Taiko drummers

Taiko drummers

The parade finale

The parade finale

There he is!  

I'm really not sure what to say about this one!

While walking up Post Street through Japantown after the parade we could hear smoke bomb crackers going off around us. A quick look around and we discovered a stand selling them on the side of the road. We bought a few packs and the kids had lots of fun throwing them on the ground and jumping on them. They also seemed to quite enjoy throwing them at me for some reason!

Post Street looking pretty crowded

Pop Pop - "Trow it"! 

You can see short videos of the girls playing with the smoke bombs on Vine here, here and here.

After we had fun with our little smoke bombs we were all feeling a bit peckish so we headed to the market stalls to find some delicious Japanese food. Just like last year's day at the festival, Kim had the strangest sushi I've ever heard of. No, it didn't contain some sort of strange squishy seafood, it contained spam! That's right, good old fashion tinned spam. There was more than one market stall selling the spam musubi so it's obviously a popular thing no matter how odd it sounds. The girls and I were much more interested in having something sweet to eat so we treated ourselves to some home made butter mochi, shaved ice and yet more mochi on a skewer.

Lola tries the mochi balls

Mochi balls for Ava

And of course, Cherry Blossom Festival wouldn't be complete without seeing some of the famed blossoms themselves. They really are beautiful blossoms. No wonder they are held in such high esteem in Japan. Just imagine how stunning a whole orchard of cherry trees must look when in bloom.

So beautiful

Sayonara for another year Cherry Blossom Festival...


  1. Oh, you guys are so cute with your whiskers and yellow noses! Gorgeous girls!

  2. I was at Cal Day (I work at Cal) with my little girl. Fun event for kids. Went to the Cherry Blossom festival too but mostly to hang out at Kabuki Springs. So many fun things to do in the Bay Area.

    1. There's always something fun going on in the Bay Area - especially at this time of year!
      Such a great place for our kids to grow up :)


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