Sakura-Con is an annual three-day anime convention held during March or April at the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, Washington. Sakura-Con is sponsored by the Asia Northwest Cultural Education Association (ANCEA).
Attendance has ranged from infants (with parents) to those in their 80s, with the majority as teens and early-twenties.
The convention features a wide array of activities and programming such as: industry guests, various discussion panels, and anime screenings. It also sports a large and lively Exhibitor's hall where you can buy almost anything related (and not) to anime and Japan in general. Contests include anime music video, cosplay, fan fiction, a fashion show, and karaoke. Multiple J-Pop concerts featuring popular groups, nightly dances, an art show and auction, and a charity auction benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. A variety of gaming rooms provide console/video, PC/LAN, CCG, RPG, and tabletop gaming. And as with many anime conventions, Cosplay is an integral part of Sakura-Con.
Sakura-Con's roots are from within the local science fiction convention community. A number of anime fans who had decided that there was not enough anime content represented at conventions such as Norwescon, hatched the plan for an anime convention in a Tacoma, Washington anime video rental store.
Originally named Baka!-Con, (baka or ばか is Japanese for idiot,) the first convention was held at the Double Tree Inn in Tukwila, Washington in 1998. In 2000, Baka!-Con changed its name to Sakura-Con, (sakura or 桜 (alternately: さくら) is Japanese for cherry blossom).
Sakura-Con's rapid growth prompted a search for larger venues. In 2004 and 2005 Sakura-Con had to limit its attendance to 5,100. Even with the attendance cap, Sakura-Con was ranked the eighth largest anime convention in North America in 2004 by paid attendance figures, and tenth in 2005. When Sakura-Con moved to the Washington State Convention and Trade Center in Seattle, Washington in 2006, it roughly tripled its capacity for attendees.
Since its beginning, starting with 313 anime fans, Sakura-Con has grown to be much more than a local event. In 2006, only about half the attendees were from the area.
ANCEA is the organization that presents Sakura-Con. Originally a separate board of directors that provided oversight to the Sakura-Con Executive Board, the membership voted on July 30 2006 to merge the ANCEA and Sakura-Con boards into a single entity. In this structure, the Chair of Sakura-Con is the President of ANCEA.