Huntington Beach Cherry Blossom Festival draws a festive crowd

When they said they were going to teach everyone the “coal miners’ dance” on Sunday, I just had to jump up on stage at the Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival in Huntington Beach. I’m from western Pennsylvania, so I was all about coal mines growing up.

As it turns out, the Japanese native dance is a lot of fun. Kids and adults enjoyed learning the fun steps, dancing along as best as they could.

The dance class was one of the highlights of the annual spring festival held in Central Park behind the Huntington Beach Library. Different acts took center stage throughout the day.

The singer Rayko Digg has a lovely voice, belting out a famous Whitney Houston tune followed by several Japanese folk songs. She was joined by the Little Tokyo Dance Club, whose infectious dancing soon had us all on our feet.

Earlier, we had enjoyed a performance by the Cornerstone Gospel Choir from Long Beach. I really liked the gospel tunes in Japanese. Who knew?

It was a perfect day for the spring festival with a light breeze and sunny skies. The blooming cherry blossoms barely moved, which was good as people lined up underneath for a family photo. Say Chizu (Japanese for cheese)!

The Orange County Bonsai Society had a fascinating display. The little trees were the result of meticulous care over many generations. A spokesman said one of the tiny trees was more than 300 years old. Yikes!

The traditional Japanese tea ceremony also drew many visitors. Elders dressed in their best kimonos were happy to pose for picture. Their costumes were beautiful.

The free festival celebrated the turning of the seasons with  Japanese dance, music, food and culture. Children kept busy with other activities, including calligraphy, origami, and face painting, as well as craft and game booths.

They all wanted their pictures taken with the cosplay characters dressed up as living anime. As did many teens and young adults.

To the Huntington Beach Sister City Committee we say Arigatōgozaimashita (that’s Japanese for thank you)!





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