Festival attendees and entertainment performers at Memorial Park
The colorful and spirited Koinobori, or fish streamer kites, that adorn Japan's Spring landscape for Children's Day, were seen waving to the rhythmic beat of Taiko drums in Cupertino, California for the city's 34th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival. The event was held on Saturday and Sunday, April 29–30, 2017, across from De Anza College, at Memorial Park, Quinlan Community Center, and the Senior Center. The annual celebration of Cupertino's sister city, Toyokawa, Japan, was founded by the Cupertino Toyokawa Sister Cities Committee, a non-profit that aims to encourage friendship and student exchange programs between Cupertino, California and Toyokawa, Japan.
2017 Student delegation at the Cherry Blossom Festival(Image Courtesy of Facebook: CupertinoToyokawa)
Every Spring, the delegates and chaperones for the year, along with visiting dignitaries, are honored at the Cherry Blossom Festival; and when Autumn rolls around, the Toyokawa committee sends these middle school student delegates overseas for a cultural exchange program through the Cupertino Union School District. Since the city's first Cherry Blossom Festival in 1983, the organization has sent and welcomed many eager students to and from the city of Toyokawa. In addition, they have raised $28,500 for earthquake and tsunami relief back in March of 2011, but most importantly, they have kept the relationship between the two cities alive and flourishing for the past several decades.
Performers in traditional Japanese costumes preparing for their act
San Jose Taiko performing their choreographed set
The weekend festival featured a wide variety of entertainment acts at the Memorial Park Outdoor Amphitheater including Maikaze Taiko and ceremonial drum performances, Japanese Classical Dance and Martial Arts, a musical chorus and ukulele band, as well as a Kimono dressing demonstration. The event also included Japanese food and beverage, cultural exhibits in the Quinlan Center, merchandise booths, and entertainment including carnival games and a petting zoo.