Eileen Tanaka spreads the word on Japanese culture 

Tanaka is the public affairs officer for Japanese Airlines, one of the chief sponsors of this weekend’s Cherry Blossom Festival. The 43rd event will wrap up at 1 p.m Sunday with the Grand Parade, a march stretching from Civic Center to Japantown.

What is the basis for the Cherry Blossom Festival? It’s about showcasing Japanese culture and highlighting the identity of Japanese-Americans. We aim to continue promoting the Japanese cultures and traditions that are currently present in the United States, and particularly in San Francisco.

What role does Japanese Airlines take in sponsoring the parade? The airline has sponsored the queen’s float for every year of the festival. Because of the down economy, the airline’s management was unsure if they could afford to do it this year. As a result, a number of different airline employees from across the Bay Area elected to personally donate money to make sure we kept the tradition alive.

How big is the Japanese-American community in San Francisco? Well, it’s not as big as Los Angeles, but it’s certainly one of the larger ones in the country. Each year, we get about 150,000 people to attend the Cherry Blossom Festival, which makes it the biggest Japanese-American event in the state.

— Will Reisman

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Will Reisman

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