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

The event, featuring entertainment, food booths and trucks (including Okamoto Kitchen, pictured below), community booths and craft vendors, was well attended, though in contrast to past years there were very few cherry blossoms.

In his opening remarks, Torrance Mayor Patrick Furey (right) explained that the blossoms came out early due to an unseasonably warm February, then were washed away by heavy rains.

At the same time, he said, “I think this year it is particularly meaningful because the festival is actually taking place, and it’s truly a time to recognize the importance of getting 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, Torrance Sister City Association, and Torrance Craftsmen’s Guild. Due to the scarcity of parking at the park, Los Angeles County Supervisor Janice Hahn provided a shuttle bus 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.

The multicultural entertainment lineup:

Indian music by Aloke Dasgupta and Raga Ranjani School of Music

Japanese traditional dance by Mai no Kai

Japanese folk music and dance by Matsutoyo Kai

Traditional Korean dance by Kim Eung Hwa and Korean Dance Company

Martial arts demonstration by Southern California Naginata Federation

Drumming by Myo’On Taiko and Friends

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

Photos by J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo  

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