Cherry Blossom festival underway in SF's Japantown

Saturday's rainy weather didn't deter thousands from flocking to San Francisco's Japantown to enjoy the annual Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival. 

Now in its 57th year, the event is regarded as the second-largest cherry blossom festival in the nation.

"It’s a really fun time…spending it with a group of friends," said festival goer Katherine Gng, who stopped by Peace Plaza to snap a photo of the famous flowering trees, only to discover the blossoms, a bit shy this year. "I hope they come out soon."

Still, there was plenty else to do at the festival. A live performance by taiko drummers echoed through the plaza. Nearby, vendors offered a wide variety of Japanese delicacies and other Asian-inspired cuisine. 

"We came from about an hour away, but it was totally worth it. Like this mochi is really, really good, and I also got some of the matcha ice cream, and some ramen," said Katherine's friend, Jo.

One vendor had the perfect sales pitch as the rain began to come down once again.

"Fresh hot udon, good for a cloudy day like today," shouted the vendor.

A few steps away, Chris Korte said he and his wife had been drawn to the festival by chance after smelling the aromas of food wafting through the streets.

"We thought what the heck, let's get something to eat, and now we have a bonsai," said Korte.

Others in the crowd were taking time to enjoy some of the event's unique and unexpected crafts vendors. 

"I really love all the booths, all the different vendors coming out. It’s really cool to see all the stuff that we can purchase here," said one attendee.

Judy Mui's origami-inspired objects were among the tents lining the street. 

"I design them based on the actual origami folds…like the cats and the butterflies," said Mui, who owns Chibi Jay Designs, and was grateful for the opportunity to showcase her works. "A lot of people want to be here. Unfortunately, they’re only allowed to take in maybe 35, 40 vendors, so I feel very honored."

Many festival goers, in turn, said they were grateful for the artists, like Mui, food vendors, and organizers who make this festival special.

"Absolutely…we come here every year," said Patrick Montemayor, who was enjoying the event with his wife and daughter. 

The Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival's remaining dates are April 14, and April 20-21.