Sakura Matsuri 2013 at Brooklyn Botanical Garden

Article by Bak Keung Ko
Photo credit Niko

Brooklyn Botanical Garden (BBG) once again held its 32nd Annual Sakura Matsuri Festival to promote the cherry blossom season on April 27 and 28.

Hanami, also known as the Japanese tradition of enjoying the cherry blossom season, has become one of the most popular features of BBG. As a first-time attendee at both BBG and Sakura Matsuri, I found the visit quite interesting and exuberant. Every year around this time, the garden is filled with visitors from both NYC and also out-of-state. Various activities are available through the two days, including stage performances, Japanese board games, kids arts and crafts, flower viewings, exhibits, book signings and more!

On each day, attendees experienced what it means to be a part of the Japanese culture. Through music, art, games, and nature, the intricacies of Japan are opened up to the average New Yorker. Personally, I attended the Sunday event (April 28) and enjoyed some time at the Shogi tables, flower viewing, and the Cherry Esplanade Stage.

Shogi is another name for Japanese chess and it is a popular pastime for professional players and amateurs alike. Hosted by the NYC Shogi Club, current players taught passerbys in the art of shogi which is similar to Western chess but there is no queen and pieces lost can be put back in the game! In addition to shogi, seeing different types of flowers, including sakura, at the BBG was a unique experience.

Perhaps the most popular feature of the event was the Cherry Esplanade Stage where various performances were held. Emceed by Yoshi Amao, games, martial arts performances, music performances such as yosakoi, Minbu folk dance, folk songs and taiko drumming performed on stage. Popular groups for each were Soh Daiko, Dancejapan, Kuni Mikami and East of the Sun, Japanese Folk Dance Institute of NY, Samurai Sword Soul, and the 10tecomai Yosakoi Project.

The day ended with a cosplay fashion show hosted by Uncle Yo. Consisting of cosplayers from all over New York (and possibly the US), their skill, dedication and hard work were displayed in fashion show form. From Chopper of One Piece to a lolita version of Captain America, these students showed that their imagination and love for anime have no boundaries.

For more information about Sakura Matsuri in NYC or the Brooklyn Botanical Garden, visit www.bbg.org.

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