Cherry Blossom Festivals Across the United States
Arts Japan 2020 is an online celebration of Japan-related cultural programs across the United States. This preview features a representative example of upcoming Japan-related cultural programs across the United States. To recommend other programs for Arts Japan 2020 to feature, click here. For a directory of organizations that create, present and support Japan-related programs in the United States, click here.
The blossoming cherry tree is a beautiful and enduring symbol of friendship between America and Japan. Over a century ago, the Mayor of Tokyo presented 3,000 cherry trees to Washington, D.C. The first festival to honor that gift was a 1927 reenactment of tree-planting along the city’s Tidal Basin. Now the annual blossoms are an iconic spring vision, and the celebrated National Cherry Blossom Festival regularly attracts over 1.5 million visitors.
In 2018, you can celebrate the blossoming of these lovely trees and Japanese/American friendship at festivals across the country. Throughout the events highlighted below, you’ll find parades, concerts, art exhibits, crafts, kite flying, walking tours, special foods, and more.
One beloved highlight of cherry blossom season is Sakura Matsuri, the Japanese street festival. In Washington, D.C., Sakura Matsuri is the grand finale of the National Cherry Blossom Festival and the largest one-day celebration of Japanese culture in the U.S. Washington's Pennsylvania Avenue fills with sights, sounds, and activities, including taiko drumming, traditional and modern crafts demonstrations, folk arts, delicious Taste of Japan dishes, culinary arts pavilion offerings, bonsai and origami creations.
The Sakura Matsuri celebration at Brooklyn Botanical Gardens offers another high-energy mix of music, family events, crafts, a Japanese marketplace, game center and cosplay festivities.
Check out our preview of multi-day and single-day festivals from across the United States, and take advantage of this once-a-year opportunity to celebrate Japanese culture while marveling at cherries in bloom.
Multi-Day Cherry Blossom Festivals
Now through April 15, 2018
The country’s biggest cherry blossom festival is a city-wide extravaganza that reaches from blossom-filled parks to the stages of the Kennedy Center; from the legendary Blues Alley to the colorful kite festival at the Washington Monument. This year’s parade on Constitution Avenue features elaborate floats, marching bands from across the country, celebrity entertainers, and giant helium balloons. Other attractions include a Japanese film festival, Japanese jazz series, exhibits at Smithsonian museums, the annual stone lantern lighting ceremony, and a “Japan Bowl” competition for high school students who are studying the Japanese language.
San Francisco, CA
April 14-22, 2018
Each year, over 200,000 people attend this festival and parade, which showcase Japanese culture and the diversity of the Japanese-American community. Look for the taiko drum festival, films, martial arts, live bands, food booths, tea ceremonies, Japanese doll making, the annual Festival Queen Program, and Japanese pop culture performances and activities. The grand parade is famous for its floats, classical and folkdance groups, and the Taru Mokoshi, a decorated structure of elevated platforms and sake barrels carried along the parade route by over a hundred people.
Now through March 25, 2018
Macon calls itself the Cherry Blossom Capital of the World, and the city comes alive for this expansive celebration. Chaka Khan headlines the cherry blossom street party, and visitors can participate in a wide variety of events, including road races, amusement rides, a magic show, nightly outdoor concerts, the Cherry Blossom Trail, and an arts and crafts festival. Floats, marching bands, military units, and costumed performers parade through Macon’s historic downtown. The festival ends with a fireworks display in Central City Park.
April 28-29, 2018
Celebrate cherry blossom season at Brooklyn Botanic Garden, with over 60 events. Highlights include back-to-back musical performances, manga drawing, cosplay festivities, a Japanese market with imported and small batch chocolates, vintage kimonos, Japanese cookbooks, and handmade hair ornaments. TimeOut NY calls this celebration “one of the city’s prettiest spring festivals highlighting the best of Japanese culture.”
Essex County and Newark, NJ
April 7-April 15, 2018
Branch Brook Park in Newark and Belleville, the “pinkest park in New Jersey”, contains more than 4,000 flowering cherry trees. When the blooms are at their peak, over 10,000 people visit the park each day. The County’s Cherry Blossom Festival offers a 10K run through the cherry blossom groves, bike races, scenic walks, Essex County Family Day, and Bloomfest, an event packed with Japanese cultural demonstrations, children's activities, live music, a crafter's marketplace, food, and more.
April 7-15, 2018
Since 1998, this multi-venue festival has celebrated Japanese art and culture with a variety of events, including musical performances, tea ceremonies, demonstrations of martial arts, tours of Japanese gardens, origami workshops, ikebana flower arranging, and the Cherry Blossom 5K. Participating venues include the University of Pennsylvania’s Morris Arboretum, the Shofuso Japanese House and Garden, the Horticulture Center in Fairmount Park and Swarthmore College. The festival's main event, Sakura Sunday, features two stages of performers, a Harajuku Fashion Show, Anime and Cosplay attractions and more.
April 20-22, 2018
The Festival began with a 1976 gift of 1,000 cherry trees from the Prime Minister of Japan to the city of Seattle in commemoration of America’s bicentennial and the long friendship between the people of Japan and Washington state. This year’s event at the Seattle Center celebrates Japanese culture with musical performances, films, games of Go, crafts, calligraphy, origami, paper cut arts, woodwork, Samurai armor, kids' activities, storytelling, and food and gift booths.
One-Day Cherry Blossom Festivals
Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival at the Bowers Museum
Santa Ana, CA
April 8, 2018
University of Alabama’s Cherry Blossom Sakura Festival
April 14, 2018
This is a representative sample of upcoming programs.
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Arts Japan 2020 is a program of the Japan-U.S. Friendship Commission (JUSFC) and is proposed by the Arts Dialogue Committee of the U.S.-Japan Conference on Cultural and Educational Interchange (CULCON). Learn more about us and the events we feature at artsjapan.us.