San Francisco Cherry blossom parade, Travel Photo Discovery #43


 Travel Photo Monday

 San Francisco Cherry blossom festival – Travel Photo Mondays

It’s Monday morning, time to enjoy some gorgeous travel photography and inspiration from around the world. Let’s banish those Monday blues by sharing gorgeous imagery and story telling. You can also check us out on Twitter for Travel Photo Mondays at #tpMondays for more updates and submissions for the day.



Cherry Blossom Festival



That first bite was just perfect, a nice crunch, so hot and crispy and when you bite into the soft and tender tempura shrimp. The bento special box was delicious and I was glad to order this from one of the Yatai (take-out) stands lining a whole corridor at the recent Cherry blossom festival in San Francisco. The parade route was extremely late getting to the bandstand area in Japan town, so all the food stalls were packed with hungry people wanting to eat first and then watch the colorful parade pass by the main route. Part of the fun of going to these parades are the bright and graphic food stalls with every type of Japanese street food available to tempt you to wait in those long lines.


Long lines at the Yatai street vendors

Long lines at the Yatai street vendors



The day was just perfect, a warm sunny Sunday in the city, quite rare for this time of the year in San Francisco – in fact for most locals it would be too hot getting past 85 degrees, a real springtime record! I almost felt sorry for many of the marching bands and geisha in full regalia and heavy makeup walking the entire route in full sun – almost unbearable for San Francisco. It was difficult to get a decent viewing spot to take photographs of the parade seeing that crowds were 10 people thick along the parade route, not my idea of enjoying a parade when you can just see the tops of most of the marchers heads.  I take a few candid and experimental shots with my camera raised high as far as my hands would reach above my head – I end up taking shots of buildings and heads cut off in weird angles.


Parade with marching dancers

Parade with marching dancers





Marching band at the Cherry  Blossom Festival

Marching band at the Cherry Blossom Festival




Smiling geisha at Cherry Blossom festival

Smiling geisha at Cherry Blossom festival


Okay, it’s time to give up on the Cherry Blossom parade (the crowds were just too much and picture-taking was impossible). I decide to just walk around Japan town and enjoy the nice quiet areas and maybe find some dessert, something unusual to satisfy my sweet inclinations. The inside mall in Japan town seem abandoned since everyone is outside enjoying the parade and street vendors. It’s nice to finally have some space and few crowds walking around the building. It’s such a strange feeling that inside it’s relatively quiet and just outside, it’s almost crazy mob scene. Whew, so glad I’m indoors where it is more relaxed and at a nice pace to enjoy a Japanese experience, outside of Japan.


Visiting Japan town at the Kintetsu building in San Francisco


It’s more relaxing inside and fun to explore the cool interior like you were walking down an actual street in Japan.

Cool and quiet in Japantown mall

Cool and quiet in Japantown mall



I love stopping by these restaurants with all their plastic food – what you see is what you get from these delicious looking ‘plastic’ food displays.


Japanese food displays in Japan town

Japanese food displays in Japan town




Bento and noodle displays at Japan town

Bento and noodle displays at Japan town


Cats seem to very very popular in Japan, hence all the cat ceramics and nick-knacks.


Ceramics boutique at Japan town

Ceramics boutique at Japan town


It was not my best photo excursion days to photograph the Cherry Blossom festival in San Francisco – I think I got away with just a few decent shots of the event. The takeaway from this was just to enjoy the day for the activity and fortunately, I found walking around Japan town was less crowded and more pleasant away from all the crowds. I also got to take some actual cherry blossoms blooming in the main square at Japan town.


Cherry blossom and pagoda in Japan town

Cherry blossom and pagoda in Japan town


Did you enjoy visiting  the Cherry Blossom festival and Japan town and for Travel Photo Mondays? Thank you for visiting us today, please do check out these other bloggers below by clicking on their links.


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54 Responses to San Francisco Cherry blossom parade, Travel Photo Discovery #43

  1. Heather May 17, 2014 at 1:57 pm #

    This is great! I never knew SF had a Japantown. It looks very authentic! I love the displays of plastic food 🙂

  2. Lindsay May 17, 2014 at 6:36 am #

    Wow! It actually LOOKS like Japan! How cool! I’ll have to check out the Kintetsu building next time I’m in SF, which I think will be this August! I love the cherry blossoms. I used to go the festival when I lived in DC. This one looks pretty authentic, though. Wonderful images, as always, Noel!

  3. Jo May 16, 2014 at 11:44 am #

    This looks amazingly authentic Noel. But where are the cherry blossoms? 🙂

  4. Michele {Malaysian Meanders} May 15, 2014 at 3:25 pm #

    If you had not told me otherwise, I would have thought that these were all taken in Japan. I hear so much about San Francisco’s Chinatown that I was surprised to find out from you that there is a Japan Town as well. That last photo with the cherry blossoms and the pagoda is wonderful, and the Bullet Train dish in that restaurant display made me laugh. Sometimes, I decide that it’s a blessing when photography is next to impossible, and I can just put away the camera and enjoy the activities surrounding me.

  5. Karen Warren May 14, 2014 at 8:32 pm #

    Great pictures. Pity the parade was so crowded but glad you managed to escape the crowds at Japantown! That is a quite amazing place.

  6. antonette - we12travel May 14, 2014 at 10:46 am #

    Great shots, once again! Would love to visit SFO once 🙂

  7. Rashad Pharaon May 14, 2014 at 12:55 am #

    I love your photography. Such warm composition. A great way to brighten my otherwise grey day… lol

  8. Samantha May 13, 2014 at 7:37 am #

    I have to re-read your post as I was convinced it was set in Japan! Lovely photos especially like the parade ones!

  9. Nina May 13, 2014 at 5:55 am #

    Great pictures and I love the way how you described the festival. No one could guess these pictures were taken in San Fransisco! I never knew there was a Cherry blossom festival in San Fransisco, looks really cool.

  10. Chris Boothman May 13, 2014 at 4:39 am #

    I am really enjoying your San Fran posts Noel! We didn’t get to experience the Japanese part of the city but after reading this article it really looks like an enthralling part worth exploring, especially during a parade.

    I think you made the right decision to just wander away from the parade and start exploring for yourself. There is nothing worse than being stuck among thousands of onlookers and not being able to capture good shots, when you could be spending your time more productively like you did and capturing the amazing memories of walking around Japan Town.

  11. Jan Ross May 13, 2014 at 3:56 am #

    San Francisco is my husband’s favorite place in the world and this seems like a great time to visit. I’m always cold there so 85 sounds perfect to me!!

  12. Jon @ May 13, 2014 at 3:28 am #

    Great photos Noel, I’d never heard of a “Japan Town” before. Makes me think of the “New Zealand Town” in New York from the TV show Flight of the Conchords.

  13. Marysia @ My Travel Affairs May 13, 2014 at 2:52 am #

    I had some of the best dim sums there!

  14. Erin May 13, 2014 at 2:50 am #

    I am SO ordering the Bullet Train if I ever get the chance. Cute AND delicious. Fun post!

  15. Emily May 13, 2014 at 2:47 am #

    Some lovely pictures! Looks like a really cool parade 🙂

  16. Paul (@luxury__travel) May 13, 2014 at 1:10 am #

    Looks like a popular event! Would love to visit Japan itself and see the cherry blossom there… it’s meant to be an amazing sight…

  17. Elena May 13, 2014 at 12:16 am #

    I never knew that San Francisco has a Cherry Blossom Festival and I lived there for a bit back in 2004! Always nice to learn something new about your favorite city in the states!

  18. Michael Huxley May 12, 2014 at 11:17 pm #

    There are some great photos there, I love pretty much anything Japanese at the best of times! I had no idea there was a Japan town in San Fransisco though, but this is why I love reading travel blogs! Another plane ticket needed soon …

  19. Bianca @itsallbee May 12, 2014 at 10:14 pm #

    I am so hungry now looking at the pictures of the food. This looks like an interesting place to explore.

  20. Christina May 12, 2014 at 9:31 pm #

    I was there a couple of years ago with a friend (she is a Japan fan/freak :D) and it´s nice to see your pictures and read your article about it. We haven´t seen the cherry blossom but the places. Great area.

  21. Neva @ Retire for the Fun of it May 12, 2014 at 7:09 pm #

    I love the photos of the parade and flowers. You reminded me of a time when my grandson saw a display of food and licked a tempting dessert. We didn’t know if we should laugh or have his tongue disinfected.

  22. Michelle May 12, 2014 at 6:35 pm #

    I enjoyed visiting “Japan” very much! The colors are so beautiful and I love the cat photo!

  23. Lisa Richardson May 12, 2014 at 6:29 pm #

    I am east coast originally and until now, unaware of SF Cherry Blossom Festival. One more reason to visit! Inviting, despite your frustrations-

  24. Lauren May 12, 2014 at 4:09 pm #

    Such beautiful photos, seems like a wonderful time of year to visit San Francisco! I love all things Japanese and would definitely explore Japantown. The cherry blossoms are so pretty!

  25. Suzanne Stavert May 12, 2014 at 3:28 pm #

    I travel to SF quite often and I never seem to spend any time in Japantown. Thank you so much for the beautiful photos! I am not a fan of crowds either, I would have done exactly what you did!

  26. Patti May 12, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

    We lived in San Jose, CA for 33 years and amazingly we never made to S.F. for the cherry blossom parade. I don’t know why, it just never happened. I haven’t yet seen the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. either, but not for a lack of trying – just bad timing!

  27. Brianna May 12, 2014 at 3:02 pm #

    I was expecting something akin to Washington DC’s Cherry Blossom Festival, this seems to pay much more homage to Japanese culture. Lovely photos.

  28. Hannah May 12, 2014 at 12:23 pm #

    I love cherry blossoms and have always wanted to go to Japan in the spring to see them. Good to know I can also check out a festival in San Fran- looks like a cool experience!

  29. Dave Cole May 12, 2014 at 11:02 am #

    I love those plastic food creations! An art form in itself. While the costumes are gorgeous, I would find it hard to leave those food stands to catch a glimpse of the parade. You captured it all nicely, Noel – thank you for sharing these photos.

  30. Doreen Pendgracs May 12, 2014 at 10:01 am #

    Lovely pics, Noel! I especially like the close-up of the young woman in costume. Well if Japan is a destination for cat lovers, I think I’ll have to get there soon! Thx for sharing these great from from the Japanese community in San Fran.

  31. Samantha May 12, 2014 at 10:00 am #

    Would love to see this parade! The noodle soups look tasty!

  32. alison May 12, 2014 at 8:46 am #

    Gotta love a good parade and combined with cherry blossoms-win, win! That plastic food is a hoot displayed in the windows. I guess really helpful in Japan if you don’t speak the language. I always loved Cherry Blossom season when I lived in Washington, the whole city and monument area really came to life and looked like it was wearing it’s Sunday best. Didn’t realize there was such a celebration in SF. Would be a great time to visit.

  33. Calli May 12, 2014 at 8:45 am #

    Great shots Noel! I love Cherry Blossom season, we have some beautiful streets in Vancouver overflowing with cherry blossoms 🙂

  34. Marilyn Jones May 12, 2014 at 8:31 am #

    Your photography is always exceptional. I really enjoyed reading about your adventures!

  35. travelnwrite May 12, 2014 at 7:20 am #

    I’d order the bullet train just to get that cute dish as a serving bowl! As always you’ve captured the mood and the beauty of the event. Love it that so many celebrate cherry blossoms!

  36. Kathryn May 12, 2014 at 7:12 am #

    Japan town looks like an interesting place to visit but I have to agree that the crowds for the parade would be just too much and I know how frustrated I get when I can’t get the photographs I want! During the parade was probably the best time to photograph Japan town without people getting in the way (or did it lack atmosphere with so few people around?).

  37. anna parker May 12, 2014 at 7:09 am #

    Gorgeous shots of San Fran. This has really opened up a side of SF that I didn’t know anything about, and very much justifies it as somewhere to visit in the spring to see the lovely blooms! Need to visit soon – my cousin opened a wine bar in Sacramento, so I really need to visit it soon! Maybe next spring to see this?

  38. Suzanne Fluhr May 12, 2014 at 5:43 am #

    Noel, it’s nice that you were still able to enjoy the day and experience once you decided to not be frustrated by the poor photo ops. Is spam a San Francisco “treat” like it is in Hawaii? Is the first photo of the sign for a booth selling spam “delicacies” with a Japanese twist? I loved the plastic food displays in Japan. They were very helpful when we couldn’t understand a menu with no English translation.

    • Noel May 12, 2014 at 6:47 am #

      I’m surprised as you are on the Spam booth, I’m sure it’s a big seller but maybe just for this festival or other Japanese related venues, I don’t think it is a San Francisco thing.

  39. santafetraveler May 12, 2014 at 5:23 am #

    Just discovered two things I didn’t know: that San Francisco has a Cherry Blossom Festival and Parade and that there is a Japan Town there. I’m a big fan of Japanese food, I’d love it!

    • Noel May 12, 2014 at 5:33 am #

      Yes the parade is huge and fun but too busy for my taste and photo opps,but visiting Japan town is lovely

  40. The Crowded Planet May 12, 2014 at 2:55 am #

    Beautiful parade. had I not read if was San Francisco, I would have thought you went to Japan. The cherry blossoms are wonderful and well done on the pics as usual!

  41. Catherine May 11, 2014 at 11:13 pm #

    Great shots Noel… I’ve never actually had the chance to visit Japantown from all my visits to San Francisco. Thank you for the little tour, especially the rare peek inside when it’s quiet and empty 🙂

  42. Corinne May 11, 2014 at 8:58 pm #

    Noel! That last photo of the cherry blossom pagoda is awesome! It never works for me, either, to shoot something over my head…what a pain!

  43. muzachan May 11, 2014 at 7:50 pm #

    Lovely parade 😉

  44. Rajlakshmi May 11, 2014 at 4:00 pm #

    they have so many varieties of noodles , the cherry blossoms look beautiful 🙂

  45. Rajesh May 11, 2014 at 3:47 pm #

    Beautiful shots from the event.

  46. Donna Janke May 11, 2014 at 3:09 pm #

    You got some lovely photos in spite of the crowds. Looks more like Japan than San Francisco. I chuckled when I saw the plastic food photo. My husband and daughters visited Japan many years ago and the displays of the food were what helped them order their meals. My stepdaughter knew some rudimentary Japanese from school that helped them out, but the food display was a great help.

  47. jesh StG May 11, 2014 at 2:23 pm #

    The Japanese have so many traditions:) Not much of that is left though after a few generations living in the USA. Love the food except for the raw fish sushi.

  48. Dennis Kopp May 11, 2014 at 10:42 am #

    Wow Noel, at first I thought there photos were actually taken in Japan. I guess I wasn’t quite aware that there was such an authentic area in San Francisco, even staging a colorful festival. The costumes look really great and it seems you got at least a few shots with actual people on them in normal angles, that is even better… 😉

  49. Marisol@TravelingSolemates May 11, 2014 at 10:16 am #

    Hi Noel, Yes, I did enjoy my virtual visit to San Francisco’s Cherry Blossom Festival and Japantown I missed the festival in New York this year, so it’s nice to enjoy yours. Your bento box sounds so delicious. I love the food part in festival like this. It’s good you managed to take some nice shots of the colorful dancers despite the crowd. If I didn’t read your title and narratives, I would think that these photos were taken in Japan. I love your last photo of the cherry blossom with the blurry pagoda in the background; very stunning.


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