Cause(s) for Celebration

by

Mike InouyeThe cherry blossom or sakura is an oft seen image in the Japanese culture. As a Japanese American I have long associated it with cause for celebration. Perhaps it’s because I have long heard it is one of the first blossoms to appear on trees in Japan, signaling the end to a bleak winter (though “bleak” has never been a winter growing up here in the South Bay.) Perhaps it is because some Buddhists say it exemplifies the “transitive nature of life” in that the trees quickly go from bare, to bud, to blossom and back to bare in the span of a scant few weeks. Whatever the case, the words “cherry blossom” have almost always been followed with “festival” throughout my life.

This weekend is the second of the two-weekend event, the “Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival” in San Francisco. It’s the 41st annual event and for the third year in a row, I’ve been given the honor of being emcee at the event’s annual “Senior Appreciation Brunch.” This Sunday morning event will recognize Japanese American “Seniors” who have given the greater part of their lives to service within the community. They are nominated by their peers and those who have benefitted from their work over the years.

Quite a cause for celebration.

The brunch is then followed by a huge parade that starts by San Francisco City Hall and proceeds up and down hills thru the city, ending back in SF Japantown. I’ll be on the NBC11 float with Olympic hopeful Lauren Fleshman. There will be dozens of other floats, dignitaries, officials, live Taiko drumming, other music and dancing, and colorful multicultural groups from basically all walks of life participating as well.

People getting together like this is also surely cause for celebration.

As is tradition, to close this parade, an amazing Taru Mikoshi (a shrine made of sake barrels) is hand carried thru the streets for the entire route. An incredible site and feat, especially considering the hills in SF. Many of the handlers will be dressed in traditional garb which could best be described as a diaper or loincloth (see the pic). These guys are FIT. I am not. I will NOT be wearing that sort of outfit.

Cause for us ALL to celebrate.

Hope to see you out there in SF Japantown for the 41st Annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival Parade this Sunday.

Get there early, parking is at a premium!

Mike Inouye
NBC11 Traffic Blossom

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