Fold-fashioned: See gigantic origami at the cherry blossom festival

Fold-fashioned: See gigantic origami at the cherry blossom festival
Photo by Louise Wateridge

Wander along the garden’s paper trail!

The 35th annual “Sakura Matsuri” cherry blossom festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden this weekend will celebrate Japanese culture with dozens of performances and activities — including a demonstration of “Colossal Origami,” with folded animals created from sheets of paper nine feet long. The results are astounding, said one practitioner.

“When people see the giant origami they are astonished that one piece of paper can turn into that!” said Michi Kanno, a supervisor at Taro’s Origami Studio in Park Slope.

The studio’s founder, origami master Taro Yaguchi, will demonstrate his giant folding technique at two sessions on May 1, at noon and at 3:45 pm. In order to work with the giant sheets of vellum, Yaguchi hangs it from a rope, like a bedsheet on a clothesline, and then carefully creases and folds the paper. The final result is more than a simple crane — he creates elaborate plants, dragons, and dinosaurs.

Yaguchi opened his studio in Park Slope because of the neighborhood’s trendy vibes and the many families who live in the area, said Kanno. He and his colleagues at the studio see origami as more than just a craft or pastime. Kanno said the studio teaches kids to respect nature and to understand that the paper they use comes from trees.

That’s a wrap: Taro Yaguchi transforms paper into a bald eagle.
Photo by Louise Wateridge

“We emphasize that it is beyond art,” she said. “There is a meditative aspect that makes you think.”

The Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s annual two-day celebration of all things Japanese will contain many other tributes to traditional arts, including tea ceremonies, taiko drumming, and martial arts performances by samurai masters. The festival also includes many practitioners of contemporary Japanese art forms, including J–pop singers who woo young, enthusiastic crowds, and creators of manga (Japanese comics).

Visitors to the festival often participate in cosplay, the art of dressing up like a character from a manga or film. Kanno said that Japanese attendees are routinely floored by the clever costumes they see, and that cosplayers are equally excited to check out the traditional kimonos and other Japanese outfits at the event.

Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden [990 Washington Ave. between Empire Boulevard and Montgomery Street in Crown Heights, (718) 623–7200, www.bbg.org]. April 30–May 1, 10 am–6 pm. $25 ($20 seniors and students, kids free).

Reach reporter Madeline Anthony by e-mail at manthony@cnglocal.com or by pnone at (718) 260–8321.
Play on: Cosplayers show off their gear at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden.
Photo by Louise Wateridge