Sakura Matsuri 2014 Festival at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Article By Pui See Tsang
Photo by Niko

The Sakura Matsuri festival is one of the most popular public events of the year at Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG). Sakura Matsuri—popularly considered NYC’s rite of spring and the largest event in a U.S. public garden—returns for its 33rd year in 2014.

Brooklyn Botanical Garden will hold its very popular Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossom Festival), full of live Japanese musical and dance performances, ikebana and tea ceremony demonstrations, plus many arts and crafts activities for children, which include origami and manga drawing workshops.

The largest cherry blossom festival in the Tri-State Area, more than 60,000 visitors visit the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s Sakura Matsuri each year. Sakura Matsuri—popularly considered NYC’s rite of spring and the largest event in a U.S. public garden—returns for its 33rd year this year.

Taking place during Hanami, the Japanese tradition of enjoying each moment of cherry blossom season, Sakura Matsuri festivities extend beyond BBG’s spring blooms with over 60 energetic and dynamic performances, demonstrations, and exhibits; many of which have been commissioned to showcase the best of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture.

The festival’s distinctive entertainment and community spirit attracts one of the largest, most colorful audiences for a cultural event in the city.

Sakura Matsuri 2014 features a focus on Japanese fashion, with runway shows of the BBG Parasol Society and cosplay enthusiasts, and presentations of traditional kimono wear. BBG’s Cosplay Fashion Show–the only outdoor cosplay fashion show in the country–presents more than 20 of the city’s most extravagant and talented cosplayers. In recent years, “Sakura Matsuri” has also incorporated aspects of modern Japanese pop-culture into its festivities. This means a contingent of costume enthusiasts — known as “cosplayers” — will show off their elaborate outfits, while a manga artist will hold workshops and draw portraits.

Many performers travel from Japan annually to participate in BBG’s Sakura Matsuri, including Ryukyu Chimdon Band, a bubbly Okinawan pop band; the Home Island Project of Shikoku, presenting a festive Awa Odori parade; and nonagenarian tea ceremony master Soumi Shimizu.

Other festival artists hail from the five boroughs, including Soh Daiko, the East Coast’s premier taiko drum ensemble; composer Hitomi Himekawa and effervescent J-pop group the Rainbow Bubble Girls; and Yoshi Amao, longtime Sakura Matsuri master of ceremonies, martial artist, and samurai sword expert.

We definitely appreciate the combination of traditional Japanese culture with more modern elements.

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