For over forty years, San Francisco has celebrated the arrival of flowering cherry blossoms with a two weekend long celebration in the middle of |Japantown|. Originally a tradition in Japan called |Hanami| (flower viewing), celebrations there consist of outdoor parties and feasts amongst the blooming trees that can go on until the wee hours. Since the flowers typically only last a week or two on the tree, the cherry blossom is said to symbolize the fleeting beauty of life.
The parade on the last day of the festival begins at the Civic Center, travels down Post Street and ends at Fillmore Street. This year’s parade had its share of taiko drummers, Japanese Animation costume contest winners, and beauty pageant winners, not to mention some impressive |Matoi| twirling. At the tail of the parade, scores of people carrying large barrels of sake make offers of rice wine in anticipation of the staple crop planting season. The festival also features local merchants selling their wares and numerous food venders serving everything from BBQ to ramen noodles. |Nor Cal Cherry Blossom Festival|