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Cherry picking: Five top picks from the Sakura Matsuri festival

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If samurai swords aren’t your preferred way to welcome in the darling buds of May (well, late April), the Botanic Garden’s “Sakura Matsuri” festival has dozens of other performances and hands-on activities to offer.

Those looking for something more traditional can participate tea ceremonies, see bonsai sculpture and ikebana flower arrangements, and learn how to play shogi (it is a bit like chess), while fans of contemporary Japanese culture can catch J-pop concerts, admire cosplay fashions, and meet manga artists.

Here are five of our top picks for the festival (and one bonus tip).

Drum minors

There will be a number of performances of Japanese Taiko drumming across the weekend, but the NY Taiko Aiko Kai Kids’ Team will feature youngsters, making it the most adorable one.

April 26 at 11:30 am.

Art class

Brooklyn manga artist Misako Rocks (“Bike Girl,” “Rock and Roll Love,” “Detective Jermain”) will teach classes for both kids and adults on how to draw in the distinctive Japanese comic style.

April 26 at 1:30 pm (kids) and 2:45 adults; April 27 at noon (kids), 1:30 pm (adults), 2:45 (adults).

Snack attack

Stock up on “wagashi” — Japanese cookies, cakes, and confections typically served with tea — from Manhattan’s Minamoto Kitchoan. Expect bean paste, rice cakes, and fruits such as yuzu, persimmon, and peach to feature in the dainty eye-catching delicacies.

April 26 and 27 at 10 am–5 pm.

Pop-inawa

Colorfully outfitted Okinawan musical group the Ryukyu Chimdon Band fuses Western pop with traditional songs from the Ryukyu Islands.

April 27 at 4 pm.

Players club

The annual “Cosplay Fashion Show” is always a highlight of the festival, with costuming enthusiasts taking to the runway dressed as elaborate anime characters and mythical creatures.

April 27 at 5:15 pm.

Get out!

Sakura Matsuri isn’t the only thing happening in and around Prospect Park on Saturday, April 26. Once you have had your floral fill, head over to the Prospect Park Fair, at the park’s Bandshell (Ninth Street and Prospect Park West), where there will be family-friendly games, food, and activities from 11 am–4 pm. Then stick around until 7:30 pm, when local artist Judy Chicago will present her pyrotechnic art piece “A Butterfly for Brooklyn” in partnership with the Elizabeth A. Sackler Center for Feminist Art at the Brooklyn Museum. The fireworks will be happening at the north end of the Long Meadow, near Grand Army Plaza (Union Street between Flatbush Avenue and Prospect Park West).

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