Cherry Blossom Cultural Festival returns to Columbia Park

TORRANCE — Canceled two years in a row due to the pandemic, the Cherry Blossom Cultural Festival returned to Columbia Park in Torrance on Sunday.

The event, which included entertainment, food stalls and trucks (including Okamoto Kitchen, pictured below), community stalls and craft vendors, was well attended, though unlike previous years , there were very few cherry blossoms.

In his opening remarks, Torrance Mayor Patrick Furey (right) explained that the flowers came out early due to an unusually hot month of February, then were washed away by heavy rain.

At the same time, he said: “I think this year it’s particularly meaningful because the festival actually happens, and it’s really a time to recognize the importance of coming together and celebrating the bonds of ‘friendship.”

Furey thanked Soka Gakkai International, one of the festival’s sponsors, for donating more than 150 cherry blossom trees to the city, about 100 of which were planted in Columbia Park.

The festival was also presented by the Torrance Community Services Department, the Torrance Sister City Association and the Torrance Craftsmen’s Guild. Due to the scarcity of parking spaces in the park, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn provided a shuttle to and from the City Yard.

One of the booths featured children’s author/illustrator Sunny Seki (“The Tale of the Lucky Cat”), who demonstrated traditional Japanese toys.

Multicultural entertainment programming:

Indian Music by Aloke Dasgupta and Raga Ranjani School of Music

Traditional Japanese dance by Mai no Kai

Japanese folk music and dance by Matsutoyo Kai

Korean traditional dance by Kim Eung Hwa and Korean Dance Company

Martial arts demonstration by the Southern California Naginata Federation

Drums by Myo’On Taiko and Friends

Another Torrance tradition, the Bunka-Sai Japanese Cultural Festival, will return Saturday and Sunday, April 23 and 24, from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m., at the Ken Miller Recreation Center, 3341 Torrance Blvd. (on Madrona Avenue).

Photos by JK YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo

Darcy J. Skinner