Cupertino Cherry Blossom Festival a successful display of Japanese culture


Jamie Lamping

Emeryville Taiko performs during the last few hours of the Cherry Blossom Festival on April 28.

Jamie Lamping, Web Editor

Hundreds of people flocked to the amphitheater, guided by the thunderous sounds of Emeryville Taiko’s drummers echoing throughout Cupertino Memorial Park.

The smells of freshly cut grass and kettle corn mingled as the audience lounged on the grassy hill and cement seats.

Many members of the audience smiled at Emeryville Taiko’s energetic performance.  The taiko group mirrored their smiles, engrossed in their drumming, dancing and chanting.

Between Emeryville Taiko’s performances, festival organizers took a moment to bid farewell to Bill Nishimoto, the retiring master of ceremonies, who remembers when the Cupertino Cherry Blossom festival started 36 years ago.

“It’s grown reasonably,” said Nishimoto. “We used to do it over there by the Oak Center in the theaters. We were crowded in that section!”

Over 20 different vendors gathered in the park on April 27 and 28, carrying goods such as jewelry, crafts and bonsai trees filling the 28 acre park during the annual celebration of Japanese culture.

Vendors included first-timer Patrick Lim, a Filipino Redwood city resident. He runs his small business, Likha, with his wife.

Likha’s stand brimmed with handmade goods such as wooden spoons, planters and coasters bought from seven small communities in the Philippines.

Lim said his favorite thing about the festival is conversing with attendees.

“We have people from all walks of life from all over the Bay Area,” said Lim.

Marianna Matthews, from Oakland, had a stand full of silver and gold jewelry. She set aside earrings for a browsing customer and explained how she made them.

Matthews lived in Tokyo for eight years teaching English.

“I developed the Japanese aesthetic I think. So I think I fit in even though,” she said gesturing to her “gaijin face.” In English, Gaijin translates to foreigner.

Like Lim, Matthews said she is enjoying “long conversations with the diverse audience.”

“What always comes up is love of Japan. So that’s kind of sweet, that’s kind of nice,” she said.

Despite his retirement, Nishimoto’s love of the Cherry Blossom Festival has not diminished from when it started 36 years ago and he plans to keep attending.

“Until I die, I’m going to be coming here,” said Nishimoto.