The annual celebration of hanami, the blossoming of cherry blossom trees that heralds the arrival of spring, begins Saturday in SF's Japantown with dozens of events and demonstrations.
What's technically called the Northern California Cherry Blossom Festival begins April 13 and culminates the following Sunday, April 21 (which is also Easter) with a grand parade through Japantown and down to the Asian Art Museum.
The first such festival happened in Japantown in 1968, and the Chronicle just dug into the archive for some historic photos through the years.
The tradition of naming a Festival Queen continues to this day, and the queen gets named at an event Saturday night.
Another tradition which began at the first festival and continues is the hoisting of the Taru Mikoshi, which is a portable Shinto shrine that requires "over one hundred strong individuals" to lift it.
Here's the full calendar of events, which kicks off Saturday at 11 a.m. with flower arranging (ikebana) and origami demonstrations, and many more exhibits and events. The festival comes with the shutdown of several blocks of Post Street, so be forewarned if you're driving in the vicinity.