11th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival at Japanese Friendship Gardens

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Courtesy of San Diego Union-Tribune

Location: Japanese Friendship Gardens
Time: 3/5-Sunday 3/6, 10 a.m. to 4 p.m.

With spring hitting this side of the coast a little faster than most, here’s an opportunity to officially commemorate the start of the new season. While everyone else dons winter North Face fleeces and long johns, break out those silk kimonos, breezy yukatas and open-toe zori for a transcendental experience at the 11th Annual Cherry Blossom Festival hosted in the Japanese Friendship Gardens near the outskirts of Balboa Park this upcoming Saturday and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Scheduled activities vary per day, so make sure to check the website for further information, but regardless of which day one attends, the festival is sure to please.

This Japanese Cherry Blossom festival, not to be confused with a Bath and Body Works semi-annual sale, combines the best of Balboa’s communal climate with Japanese culture to curate a San Diegan favorite for all ages. It boasts traditional taiko performances and Ondo dancers from Japanese schools around the San Diego area, hanami picnics and tea ceremonies located in the Upper Exhibit Hall, and a Balboa Park tradition that honors the history and practice of tea ceremonies, as well as a beer and sake garden for those who can legally imbibe while celebrating this spring season.

And as if the folks at the Japanese Friendship Gardens know finals week is right around the corner, this festival also partners with the Foundation for Wellness Professionals to offer free massages and health screenings. So for as little as five dollars, not only do you get a free health update without dealing with SHIP, but complementary Teavana samples, a cup of Lupicia tea, a bag of Japanese desserts and chance to immerse into traditional and modern Japanese culture. So this weekend, sip, dine and dance underneath a picturesque cherry blossom scene, and while it’s not the same as the scene in Hokkaido, for five dollars, this will do.