It’s On! San Francisco’s Cherry Blossom Festival 2009 Finishes Up This Weekend

The forecast is for sunny skies and balmy weather, so it’s going to be on this weekend during the 42nd Annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival in Japantown. Check the shedewl and get over there. You might encounter a Queen, see Grand Marshall George Takei, win a Toyota in the raffle, don an anime costume, wear your kimono, eat comfort food including dessert, and experience Aloha.

Here’s what the past weekend was like.

Of course the haters from the troubled 1600 Webster condo building would prefer to shut the whole shebang down, but unrestrained Hello Kitty joy will continue in the middle of Post Street nevertheless:

From Okinawa with love:

The mise-en-scene. This street festival has all the usual suspects, such as quack “doctors” and the dude who wants you to subscribe to the New York Times. But it also has a lot of unique things. It’s not just another S.F. streetfest:

OMG, it’s your new car! The Corolla you’ll win after you enter the raffle will look something like a green fish, and it will have orange tires – you’ll have to change those out to black if you want to avoid trouble from the authoritahs, however.

From the recent Queen Program at the Sundance Kabuki. Don’t call it a pageant:

These menacing street toughs headed over to the 1600 Webster Building (can you see it with the ornate top up there?) with malice aforethought…

…only to be subdued by this security guard. Whew! WTF? Who’s paying for this gratuitous guard? He looked extremely bored.  

Mckenzie Phillips is back to her old habit of ruining tourist photos. I told her, This is it! You’ve got to stop doing this kind of stuff, M.P.” She said that she’s trying to do better, taking things one day at a time. By the way the Asian Art Museum is getting all geared up for Lords of the Samurai. It’s going to be mega. (Dragon’s Gift: The Sacred Arts of Bhutan continues through May 10, 2009) 

Will Catbus and Totoro return to the Anime contingent in the Grand Parade on Sunday? We can only hope:

FYI, the anime stuff isn’t exactly G-rated. It could surprise you. From the banal…

…to the bizarre:

See you there this weekend!


Complete parade lineup, after the jump.

1. Golden Gate Nisei Memorial VFW Post 9879 Color Guard*
2. San Francisco Police Department Mounted Unit
3. San Francisco Fire chief Joanne Hayes-White
4. Asian Firefighters Association on fire engines
5. Troop 12, Boy Scouts of America; Pack 12 Cub Scouts, Girl Scout
6. Nihonmachi Little Friends*
7. Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California President and Mrs. Masaaki Tanaka
8. Consul General of Japan and Mrs. Yasumasa Nagamine
9. San Francisco Taiko Dojo Rising Stars on float sponsored by Japan Center Garage
10. Oakland-Fukuoka Sister City Association
11. The Sequoias
12. Troop and Pack 58 Boy Scouts and Cub Scouts with mikoshi*
13. NBC Bay Area News Team
14. JBBP (Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program) at Rosa Parks Elementary School*
15. Michiya Hanayagi Japanese Dance Group
16. Parade Grand Marshal George Takei
17. Gay Asian Pacific Alliance
18. Nihonjinkei (kimono group from Japan) on float sponsored by Japanese Chamber of Commerce of Northern California
19. Nihon Minyo Buyo Renmei (dance)
20. San Francisco Board of Supervisors President David Chiu
21. San Francisco Police Chief Heather Fong
22. Senior Appreciation honorees and Cherry Blossom Scholarship winners on cable car
23. Miss San Francisco, Miss San Francisco’s Outstanding Teen and Little Miss San Francisco
24. Kyokaori (kimono group from Japan) on float sponsored by Kinokuniya Bookstores
25. Miss National Asia
26. New United Motor Manufacturing Inc. (NUMMI) vehicles and marchers
27. Townsend Junior High School Marching Band from Chino Hills
28. Japan Video and Media anime costume contestants (marching unit)
29. Japan Video and Media anime costume winners on float sponsored by Safeway
30. San Francisco Supervisor Eric Mar
31. San Francisco Nipponto (Japanese Sword) Society
32. San Francisco Supervisor David Campos
33. Fujikage Shizukaoru Nihon Buyo Club (dance)
34. California State Sen. Leland Yee
35. Segway of San Francisco
36. California Assemblyman Tom Ammiano
37. Aloha Warehouse float
38. California Assembly Majority Whip Fiona Ma
39. JBBP (Japanese Bilingual Bicultural Program), Clarendon Alternative Elementary School
40. California State Sen. Mark Leno
41. Concord Ambassadors
42. San Francisco Supervisor Ross Mirkarimi
43. San Francisco Public Defender Jeff Adachi
44. 57th Cherry Blossom Festival Queen and Court from Hawaii on float sponsored by Kikkoman Sales USA Inc.
45. Hello Kitty from Puroland
46. San Francisco Assessor-Recorder Phil Ting
47. San Francisco Supervisor Carmen Chu
48. Boy Scout Troop 29 and Cub Scout Pack 29 with daruma, Girl Scout Troops 1259 and 3130
49. “Hello Maggie” illustrator Willie Ito and writer Shig Yabu
50. California Highway Patrol
51. Rissho Kosei-Kai of San Francisco
52. Greater Seattle Japanese Community Queen and Court and Nisei Week Queen and Court from Los Angeles on float
53. Okinawa Kenjinkai of San Francisco (dance)
54. 2008 Northern California Cherry Blossom FesQueen and Court on float sponsored by Union Bank of California
55. 2009 Northern California Cherry Blossom Queen and Court on float sponsored by Japan Airlines
56. San Francisco Taiko Dojo on float sponsored by Japantown Merchants Association
57. Kodomo Mikoshi*
58. Gaaru Mikoshi*
59. Kanda Mikoshi*
60. San Francisco Taru Mikoshi*

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2 Responses to “It’s On! San Francisco’s Cherry Blossom Festival 2009 Finishes Up This Weekend”

  1. Annie says:

    Did something else happen with 1600 or are you bringing up the stuff from last year? Most of us don’t mind the festival…even being woken up this morning to sounds and smells of porta potties being moved/barricades being picked up/trash retrieved is just part of being in that community.

    And, FWIW…whenever there is stuff in J-town, like the last car convention thing that was held a month or so ago, people lie their way into the building to use the bathroom/wander around/etc. The building has had some break in problems, so if they decide to hire a security guard, that is a-ok by me. It isn’t hurting anyone’s fun, and it keeps our shit safe.

  2. sfcitizen says:

    In case you’re not aware, 1600 Webster is still on double secret probation due to the unfortunate incident last summer. Given the threat issued last August against an upcoming festival this August, some might consider 1600 Webster an ongoing concern.

    Are these people still on the scene?

    From: 1600 Webster Street Homeowners’ Association
    To: Nihonmachi Street Fair Committee

    As you are aware, this Association (along with other members of this neighborhood) must tolerate what seems to be an endless use of Post and Webster Streets for a series of look-alike street fairs with the same purveyors of schlocky souvenirs, mediocre food stands and exhibitors who have absolutely no relationship to the community. There is no other neighborhood which is asked to put up with these sorts of disruptions, and that, of course, doesn’t include the disruption presented by the Fillmore Street Fair which is only one block away.

    Thus, we find it astonishing that the Fair organizers would propose an event that would leave the neighborhood in worse condition than you found it and then impose your clean-up costs on this Association and other property owners. The streets and sidewalks of this neighborhood are usually filthy, especially those that surround that appalling mall, and 1600 Webster already devotes part of its yearly budget to the maintenance of its sidewalks and street trees from which this neighborhood receives a direct benefit.

    We want to make it very clear to you that if the neighborhood sidewalks are not cleaned in an adequate fashion this year, this Association will file a protest with the City when you seek a permit for next year’s street fair.

    David H. Zisser

    President, 1600 Webster Street Homeowners’ Association

    From: Developer, 1600 Webster Street
    To: Nihonmachi Street Fair Committee

    This is real simple. You want to put on an event; you take responsibility. In this instance, you make a mess, you clean it up. You don’t get the benefits (proceeds), without the liabilities (expenses). If your event doesn’t make money, you should rethink it’s usefulness. In any event, if we have to clean up afterwards, we will not only oppose the event next year we will look to small claims court to reimburse us for clean up costs. We don’t need a bunch of emailing back and forth on this. It is not a negotiation.

    John McInerney

    Developer 1600 Webster Street

    Nihonmachi Street Fair Response

    Dear Mr. Zisser,

    Thank you for your email regarding the upcoming Nihonmachi Street Fair.

    After thoroughly reading your reply I am very troubled by the response you presented.

    The Nihonmachi Street Fair (NSF) like the many other community events held in and around Japantown has always worked with our neighbors both residential, community organizations and businesses to make sure that we keep our streets clean and that the event is a successful one especially for the many non profit organizations that participate.

    We have never received any negative comments like this and it puts a damper on what we hope will attract many visitors to the area. The Nihonmachi Street Fair has always done our best to keep the streets of Japantown pristine after the event closes each day. Our committee knows how important it is to not only represent the NSF in a positive manner, but that our actions also reflect our organization and more importantly our community.

    Due to very limited funds this year we are unable to spend the funds to hire the City to steam clean the sidewalk area directly in front of the 1600 Webster condo. The Food Fest area will be contained on Post Street. Other than having our volunteers sweep the streets during and after the event, as well as the Department of Public Works coming by to sweep the entire Fair areas, we should be fine. Of course if any of the streets that we use is soiled and is an eye sore we do go out there and physically scrub the area.