The Cherry Blossoms are Here, Celebrate the Blooms

Celebrate the blooming of cherry blossoms and welcome springtime with a celebration of Japanese culture and the beautiful flowering trees in the landscape. Head to San Francisco’s Japantown for one of the second largest festival outside of Washington, D.C. or mosey down to the Japanese Tea Garden at San Mateo’s signature Central Park.

The 2016 Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival is one of California’s most prominent celebrations of Asian traditions. The festival will celebrate its 49th year on Saturday and Sunday April 9-10 and April 16-17, 2016. Each year, over 200,000 people attend this dazzling display showcasing the color and grace of the Japanese culture and the diversity of the Japanese American Community.

The festival will be held on Post Street between Laguna and Fillmore Streets in San Francisco. There will be food booths, cultural performances, martial arts, live bands, the annual Queen Program, and more. The Grand Parade will be held on Sunday, April 17, beginning at City Hall and concluding in Japantown.

‘The parade is a sight to behold: floats, taiko drumming and other Japanese music, folk dancing, the cosplayers, gorgeous kimonos, and more mikoshi (portable shrines) than you can shake a shamisen at! The end of the parade is marked by the giant mikoshi being carried by a hundred volunteers’ – Summer M., Yelp

Photo Jan 23- 12 40 31 PM

Steps away from downtown San Mateo, tucked away in a landmark location of Central Park, you’ll discover an authentic Japanese Tea Garden. Designed by the same landscape architect that created the Zen Garden at Golden Gate Park’s Japanese Tea Garden, Nagao Sakurai of the Imperial Palace of Tokyo has created one of the finest tea gardens in California right in your own backyard.

You will be transported into a tranquil landscape as you wander the quiet pathways past blossoming Cherry Trees, Japanese Maples and Bonsai. The gardens contain a granite pagoda, tea house, Koi pond, wooden bridges and bamboo grove. The landscaping perfectly complements the blend of water and earth elements with hidden treasures everywhere, including a shrine behind a bamboo fence –  a gift from San Mateo’s Japanese sister city, Toyonaka, on the occasion of the 25th Anniversary of the garden.

The garden is beautiful throughout the year, but taking in the views in early spring when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom is an amazing way to welcome in spring and celebrate the blooms.

A living highlight of the garden is the kidney shaped pond decorated with colorful Koi.  Koi are seen in many Japanese gardens and are a symbol of love and friendship. During spring and summer months, the Koi are fed at 11 am and 3 pm. Insider Tip: Stand on the bridge for the best view. This quiet garden oasis of serenity in the midst of San Mateo’s urban bustle is free to the public and open 10am to 4pm Monday – Friday and 11am to 4pm on weekends.

Bay Meadows is a family-friendly neighborhood with lots of green space to enjoy all year long.  Whether it’s growing your own vegetables in a gorgeous community garden with expert guidance, playing a game of pick-up basketball after work, team building over bocce, picnicking with family on warm summer nights or getting fit with pop-up Zumba class, there’s no shortage of green space to explore. If you have little ones, don’t miss Momdays on Mondays in Paddock Park!