Every year, San Francisco’s Japan Town fills with attendees celebrating the Cherry Blossom Festival. For two weekends, the streets and plaza hosted booths, events, and vendors participating in the festivities, all concluding in a massive parade through the city streets.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is a celebration of Japanese culture, so it included an array of cultural celebrations. From Taiko drummers to traditional dances, the pagoda stage at Japan Town continued to showcase the arts and performances.
Of course, it wouldn’t be a Cherry Blossom Festival without the usual tributes to anime. As with previous years, this began with Sakura 360. A stage off to the side held events and anime-focused activities, including karaoke, idol dances, and a cosplay contest judged by local cosplayers. Sakura 360 is an act of passion from the hosts and performers, showcasing their talents and crafts.
The final day of the festival concluded with a grand parade. Multiple groups and organizations participated in the parade, including beauty pageant winners, shiba inu lovers, the NorCal Shinsengumi group, and of course, cosplayers. The cosplayers joined in the parade as it marched from the Civic Center back to Japan Town, with attendees dressed as their favorite characters walking in the parade or riding on the float.
One noteworthy addition to the float was a mascot Detective Pikachu, who was there to promote the upcoming movie. This mascot was a welcome addition, using the same suits as the dancing Pikachu from Pokemon festivals with a large Sherlock Holmes-styled hat.
However, some non-cosplaying attendees were in need of reminding that cosplay is not consent. There were reports of people walking up and taking photos of unaware cosplayers, without asking for permission or a pose. Cosplayers are often on the lookout for “creeper photographers” who attempt to take upskirt photos of women in costumes, or generally rude ones who will shove a camera in a cosplayer’s face and take a photo without saying a word or giving them a chance to prepare. This is poor behavior from the photographers who, unfortunately, did not seem to respect the subjects of their photographs.
At the end of the parade, the Japan Town plaza filled with attendees of all ages. Some attempted to beat the crowds and get food, others sat and watched the performances on the stage, while others still visited the vendors. While certainly crowded, there was no shortage of things to see throughout the two weekends.