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19th April
written by Andrew Evans

The San Francisco Cherry Blossom Festival isn’t strictly an anime convention – it’s a celebration of all of Japanese culture. But anime and cosplay certainly plays a big part, and the festival always draws out a friendly anime crowd. The festival runs two weekends in a row with a cosplay contest and parade on the second Sunday. We attended the second weekend to check out the food stalls, merchandise, and march in the parade with the other cosplayers.

There is no end to how much food you can buy here – there is an incredible variety of everything from Takoyaki to gyoza & sushi, and all of it is delicious. Most places are cash-only, though, so bring a hefty supply. The merchandise was not the kind of stuff you could get at any anime convention – there were a lot of culture-themed collectibles such as glass & pewter dragons, tapestries, and awesome clothing from dresses to kimonos.

We got there a little too late for the cosplay contest, but made it to the parade. There were some excellent cosplays with everything from Inuyasha to Prinnies from the Nippon Ichi games. After wandering around a bit, we also caught a show from a Sailor Scouts group on the main stage which was delightful.

There’s not much of a party scene for the Cherry Blossom Festival, since it’s not really something people come from out of town to see, but we made our own fun. After the parade we hit up a Korean karaoke bar nearby, ran into some friends having a birthday, and ended up at a couple different house parties throughout the night.

Cherry Blossom is a great place to go with friends. We’ll be there next year – will you join us?

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