Above and below: Kimono fashion show and Yuujou Daiko at 2019 Cherry Blossom Festival. (J.K. YAMAMOTO/Rafu Shimpo)

MONTEREY PARK — Imagine your senses tingling with the aroma of teriyaki sizzling on the grill while your heart pounds to the beat of the taiko drums. Those experiences and more await you at the 23rd annual Monterey Park Cherry Blossom Festival.

After a three-year hiatus, the festival will return to Barnes Park, 350 S. McPherrin Ave., on Saturday, April 15, and Sunday, April 16.

The free two-day event is sure to draw thousands of visitors from across Southern California to experience Japanese and Asian Pacific Islander culture. The outdoor main stage program is packed with performances ranging from classical Japanese dancing to vibrant taiko drumming, from contemporary music groups such as Kokoro, Ronin Stones and Elemental Funk to exhibitions of karate and hula, and performances by local high school musical groups.

Among the exhibits featured in the Barnes Park gym this year are calligraphy artwork, traditional tea ceremony, and a presentation by the Veterans Memorial Court Alliance honoring Japanese American veterans.

The Cherry Blossom Festival Marketplace will feature a host of vendors selling merchandise with unique Asian Pacific Islander flair. Community organizations will also be on hand offering information and assistance on a variety of health, social, education and consumer issues impacting the community while a unique mix of businesses showcase their services.

Families will have a blast at the children’s craft area making Japanese fans and kites. And what is a festival without delicious food choices like chicken teriyaki, Spam musubi, and the ever-popular mochi desserts from Little Tokyo’s Fugetsu-Do?

Cherry Blossom Festival attendees can also avoid parking hassles by taking the City’s free shuttles from Langley Senior Center, 400 W Emerson Ave.; Ynez Elementary School, 120 S Ynez Ave.; and Repetto Elementary School, 650 Grandridge Ave.

The festival is free to the public and made possible with the crucial contributions of community volunteers and financial sponsors. Visit www.MontereyPark.ca.gov/CherryBlossom for a list of sponsors, or to find out how you can contribute to this annual event.

For more information on festival hours, programming and parking, visit the city’s website at www.MontereyPark.ca.gov/CherryBlossom or contact Robert Aguirre at raguirre@montereypark.ca.gov.

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