This post will be light on words but heavy on pictures. I went down to Washington, D.C. on Saturday, April 11, 2015 for the annual National Cherry Blossom Festival. I got there early in the morning at around 05:30 AM to ensure that I get a good parking spot at Hains Point and to be able to take pictures of the cherry blossoms at the Tidal Basin during sunrise. I ended up wasting a lot of time waiting at some spots to get some pictures so the golden hour came and went before I knew it, but it was still a good learning experience nonetheless. Here are some of the photos that I took during that time:
Next on my agenda was the National Cherry Blossom Festival Parade that started at 10:00 AM on Constitution Avenue. This year I had pre-purchased a ticket for a seat in the grand stands so I had a pretty good view of the parade and of the performances. Here is a small selection of photos that I took during the two-and-a-half hour parade:
Finally, after the parade I went to the Sakura Matsuri Japanese Street Festival over on 12th and Pennsylvania Avenue. The festival had a large variety of performances, games, educational booths, and food stalls. It's a great way to learn and experience Japan without leaving home, but the biggest problem was just how incredibly crowded it was. This is especially true in the middle of the festival area where the food stalls were. The ridiculously long lines not only made it a chore to get some grub but it was also extremely difficult just to walk by the area to get to the other side.
Still, the crowds didn't keep me from enjoying the festival. I especially enjoyed spectating at the competitive Karuta card game booth as I watched as some of the girls dressed in traditional Japanese clothes play matches of karuta which is a memory game based on the famous 100 tanka poems. (I ain't gonna lie, I didn't know anything about this card game until I watched the anime series Chihayafuru).
Finally, it wouldn't be a Japanese festival without some Anime, Cosplay, and other Otaku goods. Anime USA held their annual Cosplay Fashion Show contest and the area surrounding the JPOP stand had a lot of otaku merchandise booths to look through.
Here's the video that I uploaded to Youtube of the Cosplay Fashion Show: