Cherry treat: Botanic Garden to host annual Japanese festival next weekend

Cherry treat: Botanic Garden to host annual Japanese festival next weekend
File Photo by Jason Speakman

Business is blooming!

Local Japanophiles can get a taste of the island country’s culture at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s annual cherry blossom festival next weekend. The Sakura Matsuri Festival on April 27–28 will give Brooklynites a chance to celebrate Japanese culture with tea ceremonies, art demonstrations, music performances, and costume displays in pop-ups across the Garden, according to a rep.

“Sakura Matsuri has expanded over the years to feature a wide array of performances, exhibits, and events celebrating both traditional and contemporary Japanese culture,” said Elizabeth Reina-Longoria. “The festival has grown to be the largest festival in an American public garden.”

Each year the Festival draws tens of thousands of visitors to the Garden’s 52 acres, which will be filled with activities that include high-flying, action-packed sword fighting dramas as well as peaceful, traditional Japanese musical performances, according to Reina-Longoria.

“Traditional Japanese dance from Dancejapan and the Japanese Folk Dance Institute, tea ceremonies with tea masters Soumi Shimizu and Skyo Shimizu, taiko drumming from Soh Daiko, and of course Yoshi Amao, and his martial arts group, Samurai Sword Soul are among fan favorites,” she said.

Many Sakura Masturi visitors don extravagant costumes in imitation of their favorite anime characters, said Reina-Longoria, and this year those fans will have a chance to show off their knowledge of the action-packed art form.

“Visitors love attending Sakura Matsuri in their most impressive cosplay,” she said. “This year visitors can check out ‘Neko or Usagi: Anime Quiz Battleground,’ a game show in the Garden from cosplay curator extraordinaire Charles Battersby.”

Many of the cultural events will take place on both days of the festival, but music-loving visitors should consult the schedule on the Garden’s website. The Japanese punk band Pinky Doodle Poodle and Tokyo indie rockers the Molice will each play on the opening day of the festival, while the J-Music Ensemble, which blends jazz with video-game soundtracks, and Japanese rock band Lust will each take the stage on the second day.

A Japanese marketplace will offer paintings, sculptures, and confections on each day of the festival, and local experts will offer lessons in the Japanese board game Go and Shogi chess, as well as the card game Karuta.

The Botanic Garden hopes the event, which they called the most spectacular cherry blossom displays in North America, not only lets people explore a wide array of Japanese culture, but also the length of the garden’s sprawling greenery.

Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens [990 Washington Ave. between Crown and Montgomery streets in Crown Heights, (718) 623–7200, www.bbg.org]. April 27–28; 10 am–6 pm. $30 ($25 teens, kids under 12 free).

Reach reporter Aidan Graham at agraham@schnepsmedia.com or by calling (718) 260–4577.
A cherry site: The Cherry Esplanade should be in full bloom next weekend for the Sakura Matsuri festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Julie Markes