Japanese Club goes to San Francisco for festival


The Japanese Club took its second trip to the 45th Annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival on April 22.

From Stockton to Pleasanton, from Pleasanton to San Francisco, Japanese Club would travel by vehicle, BART and foot through the major crowds in the city partaking in Earth Day festivities and a nearby flea market.

After a few hours of traveling the club reached the Japan Center at the heart of the Blossom Festival.

ON PARADE: Thousands gather during the Grand Parade. PHOTO BY JAMES STRIPLIN

“I like how its the best representation of the Japanese culture,” said Eric Wombaugh. “I expect people not only to be doing what I’m doing (cosplaying) but present other parts of the culture.”

The Cherry Blossom Festival in San Francisco was originally held by Japanese business owners and community leaders in 1967 after being inspired the National Cherry Blossom Festival held in Washington D.C.

To this day, the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival is ranked in the top ten when compared to similar festivals in the world and is the second largest just behind the event in D.C.

“My interest in the Japanese culture probably started with Toonami,” said Samuel Ochoa. “It lead me into anime.”

The sheer mass of people stopped the cool bay air and could warm a large radius around the mall, as sightseers and anime fans alike flooded this shopping center.

Much like the event itself, stores became wealthy with customers as every diner and shop was filled, shoulder-to-shoulder with eager buyers.
For four days this went on from April 14 to 15 and April 21 to 22, but nothing drew in a crowd like the final day of this festival as participants gathered to see the Grand Parade.

The Grand Parade started at the Civic Center around 1 p.m. and ended in Japantown with the Taru Mikoshi, a shrine to a festival deity, which is said to give the most blessings when rocked back and forth from one side of the street to the other.

Also featured in the parade were the cosplay winners that were presented later on in the cosplay tournament that ended the Cherry Blossom Festival.

At the end of the day the group left tired and culturally rich with the festivities that ensued that day.

The Japanese Club plans on going to next year’s Cherry Blossom Festival and hopefully turn it into a traditional club activity.