By RYOKO OHNISHI, Rafu Staff Writer

After enduring the cold winter, finally the cherry trees have started blooming at Columbia Park in Torrance and are forecasted to bloom for the next four to six weeks.

Photo by RYOKO OHNISHI/Rafu Shimpo

The trees are at the southeast of the park near the intersection of 190th and Prairie. The religious group Soka Gakkai International-USA planted a total of 110 trees, starting in 2001. The variety is called Pink Cloud, a hybrid of Taiwanese and Japanese cherry trees known for its vivid pink color and delicate petals.

In addition, Pink Cloud is relatively strong in dry weather compared to the Somei Yoshino variety, which is popularly planted in Japan and Washington, D.C.; however, some of the trees in Columbia Park did not take root.

The City of Torrance is planning to host the Cherry Blossom Festival on Saturday, March 9, from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Columbia Park, 18861 Prairie Ave. Those who attend are invited to bring a picnic lunch and blanket and sit amongst the blossoming cherry trees. For information, call (310) 618-2376.

In West Los Angeles, the Cherry Blossom Festival (Sakura Matsuri) is scheduled for Saturday, March 2, from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. at Stoner Park, 1831 Stoner Ave. Several centenarians will be honored; this year, seniors in their 80s and 90s will also be recognized. The Japanese language school (Sawtelle Gakuin) will have its annual Undo Kai (Sports Day) for students and parents.

South Coast Botanic Garden, 26300 Crenshaw Blvd. in Palos Verdes Estates, also invites the public to have lunch underneath the cherry trees on March 2 from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Park admission is free for South Coast Botanic Garden Foundation members, $8 for non-members. For information, call  (310) 544-6815.

The eighth annual Cherry Blossom Festival will be held on Saturday, March 9, from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Japanese Friendship Garden, 2215 Pan American Place in San Diego’s Balboa Park. Free with admission to garden ($3-$4). Tickets for food and games sold separately. For information, call (619) 232-2721.

The City of Monterey Park will host the 16th annual Cherry Blossom Festival on Saturday and Sunday, April 20-21, at Barnes Park, 350 S. McPherrin Ave., Monterey Park.