The Cherry Blossom and Anime Festival took place on April 6th in a small building off of Pine Street in Long Beach. While the venue was small there was still plenty of programming and socializing to make this a fun event. Taking Japanese culture and making it accessible to any who stopped by helped set this event apart from the usual festival. This time Jared took the reigns on a solo quest for fun in Long Beach while empowered by the smooth sounds of Dave Brubeck.

At noon the festival officially started with an opening introduction by the staff of the event. While the doors had opened at nine it was nice to see an opening that was easier to attend than one at the opening of the doors. One of the interesting aspects of this opening is that a yoga teacher closed the ceremony with a meditative prayer to help everyone keep a sense of peace and relaxation at the event.

The main stage was not big but it did hold several events during the festival. The first stage presentation I caught was the kimono display and obi tying demonstration. The presenters showed off different traditional festival fashions and talked about why and when people would wear different clothes. The tying of the obi really gives a good sense of the effort required to make a kimono or yukata look nice.

The next stage event grabbed everyone’s attention with traditional festival dances. After the stage show the dancers grabbed people out of the audience and made them dance along too in the middle of the building. This evoked many smiles and gave attendees an experience they did not expect and if that did not grab everyone attention the next event featuring kendo students did. Practicing different kata and even dueling a bit the yells of “Nee” and “Yahh” echoed throughout the building. In addition to that the clash of bamboo swords drew everyone to the stage to see what was going on. It was easily one of the more exciting martial arts demos I have seen in awhile. To wind things down a bit these two events were followed by the much more peaceful tea ceremony.

Beyond the main stage there was still plenty to check out. A second room had a large desk with different activities, crafts, and even some basic tutorials. From kids to grandparents people were gathered to have fun and maybe learn something new. There were also some venders selling trinkets and Japanese fashion accessories. It was a modest setup, but if you are into Japanese street fashion you would likely find a good deal. The evening featured a costume contest and a few musical guests. In addition to that there were a couple of food trucks that showed up at the event. One truck had sushi and the other shaved ice and while both were popular with the attendees the lines were never very long.

Considering how small this event was it was surprising how many people were there coming and going throughout the day. As it got into the afternoon more cosplayers showed up for the costume contest and the concerts. It was also nice to see families showing up to enjoy a small cultural festival. We had only heard about this event a week prior and I was not sure what to feel about the very simple setup it seemed to promote online. However, upon arrival the fun and social atmosphere took away any reservation I had. If you want a nice distraction where you can learn something new then attend this little event for a couple hours you will have fun.

Long Beach Cherry Blossom and Anime Fest 2013 Gallery

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