Matsuri by the Bay

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Taru Mikoshi1 for webThe 47th annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival, said to be the largest such celebration in the U.S. after the one in Washington, D.C., was held April 12-13 and 19-20 in San Francisco’s Japantown. The final day included the Grand Parade, which started at City Hall and ended on Post and Fillmore streets. Above: The Taru Mikoshi, a Cherry Blossom Festival tradition, is a mikoshi or portable shrine made of sake barrels donated by Japanese brewers. It is carried by hundreds of enthusiastic and lightly clad volunteers.

jal float:cherry blossom courtThe 2014 Northern California Cherry Blossom Court rode on the Japan Airlines float.

2014 cherry blossom court at city hallThe 2014 Northern California Cherry Blossom Court at San Francisco City Hall. From left: Princess Alessandra Dameshghi, Princess Saaya Sakurai, Queen Kyle Tana, First Princess Alison Nishiyama, Princess Kristin Matsumoto.

michiya hanayagiMichiya Hanayagi, who has taught Japanese classical dance (Nihon buyo) in the Bay Area since the 1950s and has participated in the festival since its inception.

watanabe-leeParticipating dignitaries included the new consul general of Japan, Masato Watanabe (left), and local elected officials, including San Francisco Mayor Ed Lee (pictured with his wife, Anita).

happy-rosa parks jbbpChildren from the Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program at nearby Rosa Parks Elementary School dance to Pharrell Williams’ “Happy.”

small mikoshiOther portable shrines in the parade included the Kodomo (Children) Mikoshi.

awa odori tokushima renLos Angeles-based Awa Odori Tokushima Ren poses beneath the Peace Pagoda.

awakko-renMembers of Awakko-Ren, a San Francisco-based Awa Odori group.

nihonmachi little friendsChildren from Nihonmachi Little Friends, a multicultural preschool/afterschool program in Japantown.

sf taiko dojo1Grand master Seiichi Tanaka (front left corner of float), founder and director of San Francisco Taiko Dojo, led his group and also served as the parade’s grand marshal.

rissho kosei kaiRissho Kosei Kai, a local Buddhist center, participates in the festival every year.

fujimoto-kawahatsuLeft: Yoshiko Fujimoto of Nihon Minyo Buyo Renmei. Right: Rev. Masato Kawahatsu of Konko Church of San Francisco and Japanese American Religious Federation.

nisei week court at city hallThe 2013 Nisei Week Court from Los Angeles poses in front of San Francisco City Hall. From left: Princess Jamie Teragawa, First Princess Ashley Honma, Queen Lauren Iwata, Miss Tomodachi Megumi Yuhara, Princess Laura Higashi, Princess Stephanie Fukunaga.

sf, hawaii, wash. queensFrom left: 2013 Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen Kelly Walton; 2014 Hawaii Cherry Blossom Queen Sarah Kamida; 2013 Seattle Japanese Community Queen Christine Ito.

nisei week, 2013 cherry blossom courts clown aroundThe 2013 Nisei Week Court and 2013 Northern California Cherry Blossom Court clown around on their float.

 

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