Saturday, April 10, 2010

The 2010 Cherry Blossom Festival Southern California Part 1: The Weekend Begins

After a five month hiatus of attending events related to Asian culture, I've gotten back in the groove by attending The Cherry Blossom Festival Southern California held today and tomorrow in the Little Tokyo district of Los Angeles. The way the two-day event is organized, there are several stages with each stage dedicated to a specific element of Asian culture. There's the main stage with the headlining events, martial arts stage, J-pop stage, and Hawaiian stage. As such, I wasn't able to focus my entire day at one stage like I did during last year's Nisei Week (feel free to search around to learn about my experience at that event).

So my day started with the opening ceremonies on the main stage, the center ring of this event. The quiet morning was broken with the thunder of Daion Taiko:

The host of the main stage is Rodney Kageyama. The Disney geek in me would recognize him as the turn-of-the-century Japanese man living in San Francisco in the Golden Dreams short film that starred Whoopi Goldberg and was an attraction at Disney's California Adventure (FYI, the attraction's been razed to become the new Little Mermaid: Ariel's Adventure ride. Only the reproduction of the Exploratorium entrance remains. It's a really good film but became dated when Shaq moved to Miami).

Most of the weekend's events are held next to the Japanese American National Museum. It seems fitting that the Star Spangled Banner is sung. It was sung by Gina Hiraizumi.

However, it is also fitting that there be the ceremonial breaking of the sake barrel, which was done by the Consul General of Japan in Los Angeles Junichi Ihara (the one in the yellow happi coat wearing glasses) along with other dignitaries. I only recognize Ihara as he was also present at last year's Anime Expo opening ceremonies where he mentioned all the manga he reads today.

While there are four events stages, there is also a street fair:

After all the money I spent at Anime Jungle, I don't think I'll be doing the bounce houses tomorrow...

Up next, the first event at the J-pop stage, the cosplay contest...

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