BZ's Cherry Blossom Festival '09

Photo Gallery

Spring time every year, San Francisco's Japantown holds its Cherry Blossom Festival. Usually, I just read about it - or watch it on the news. But this year, I'm happy to say I made an effort to check it out in person!

The highlight for me has got to be the performances put on by the San Francisco Taiko Dojo. I first heard them more than 16 years ago at a Taiko concert at Berkeley. Pictures of course, can not possibly convey the exciting heart pounding performance that they put on.

Besides the Taiko performance, there were food stalls a plenty, dance performances, Martial arts demonstrations, and a well attended street fair. Pictures taken on April 11, 2009.

Used a Nikon D200 w/ a 70-300mm VR lens, and 18-105mm VR lens.
- Bernard Zee

The Cherry blossoms were fully in bloom.

Colorful trinkets for sale at the street fair.

Looks like the vendors were doing ok.

Post street was closed off for the fair. Good thing I decided to take Geary!

The Boy Scouts had a oragami booth set up.

Lots of food stalls too. Sample fries anyone?

Nice sunny day out - though it got a bit cool and windy later on...

San Francisco Taiko Dojo put on an awesome show!

Too bad they didn't bring out the BIG drum. I guess it was too hard to cart around!

Here they are playing their trademark 'Tsunami' song. I have their CD, and love to crank it now and again! Of course, nothing beats a live performance.

Very physically demanding playing the Taiko drums.

The energy level was just amazing!

The music builds and builds, till it gathers for the one final crescendo!

Members of the Dojo handing out flyers between songs.

Grand Master Seiichi Tanaka.

The flute often accompanies the drums.

Taking a bow to thunderous applause

The Japanese version of the lion dance.

Shaking a maracha like instrument, the performers start to mingle with the audience.

The lion is a playful character. Not sure if the lady got her hat back. I think the lion ate it!

More shaking.

Seiichi Tanaka plays the flute for the lion dance.

Not an empty seat to be found.

The ladies put on an intricate drum routine with a lot of switch offs.

The face behind the lion mask.

Everyone looked to have nice strong arms!

The SF Taiko Dojo has made it to film a few times. I remember they had a long scene in 'Rising Sun'.

Some members of the group enjoying the performance.

Distintive haircut aside, this guy was quite ripped.


Afterwards, they let some audience members try their hand at the drums. A good time was had by all!

Scholarship awards were handed out that day.

Classical Japanese dance was up next.

A trio of young performers waiting to go on stage.

Something about a fox dance.

Shooting the acts on stage was tricky due to shooting into the sun. This direction was much nicer.

Anime and Manga are synonymous with modern Japanese culture. There were some people dressed up as their favorite characters, but I'm one week early - Next weekend is when the cosplay contest is scheduled. Too bad I can't make it!

I believe the dancers are from Michiya Hanayagi Kai and Michisuya Hanoyagi Kai.

Quite a change of pace from the frenetic Taiko drums!

Some very young dancers take to the stage.

My occasional 'artsy' shot.

The bright orange fans make for pretty pictures!

At the end of the dance, their relief is evident.

Something about a lion and drummer. Sorry, I was only half listening...

I believe these dancers are from Nihon Buyo Kiyonomoto Ryu. (from the schedule of events)

The dancers motions are slow and deliberate.

Very colorful outfits.

Members of World Oyama Karate warm up.

One of the last classical Japanese dancers.

Watching from under the Cherry Blossom trees.

The little kids are so cute.

A more senior member shows off one of the kata forms.

some of the adult members show off the full contact nature of the sport. But at half speed.

They had a fun segment where they had the kids go up against the adults.

Even though the kids 'win', I'm not so sure... I know this is about building self confidence and all that, but they really have no chance against an adult using brute force techniques (like punch and kicks).

I'd probably get flamed for it, but I think the emphasis for younger kids should be to break a hold, and to evade instead of attack.

Still, it was a fun segment to watch.

Then they had the kids do some board breaking.

Which is sort of cool and showy.

There's a name for the police looking clubs, but it escapes me for the moment.

I have a feeling the Sensei was holding back. He could have had her with that staff anytime he wished!

Here he is breaking ice.

Breaking 4 layers!

A farewell punch.

I'm so out of it, I have no idea what characters they are!

I do know who these guys are though! Not wanting to chance a parking ticket, we parked in the paid underground garage.

Some more views of the street fair.

A couple of Red Bull girls handing out free samples of the drink.

Some manga character I am unfamiliar with...

The classic Japantown shot!

They had a few indoor exhibits as well, including this oragami club.

Japanese folk dance by Sakura Minyo Dou Kou Kai.

Most of the performances were at the Peace Plaza stage, just outside the Kintetsu Mall.

Some young dancers smile for the crowd.

There was a short Kendo demonstration at the end of the day.

Decked out in protective gear, participants get to yell and strike each other very hard with bamboo swords.

Just about the only way to practice sword play without killing each other!

Here's an audience member getting the chance to strike someone on the head with all her might. The next guy up was really built, and must have taken it as a challenge to ring the bell of the guy in the helmet... I think it took a lot of self control not to hit back!

At the end of the day, I try to get back on the Bay Bridge by going right by Union Square (thanks GPS). Did I mention how much I love downtown SF traffic? :-)

If you liked these, you might want to check out some other pics I took...
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