Ka-bloom! Botanic Garden’s Cherry Blossom fest is explosion of Japanese culture

Ka-bloom! Botanic Garden’s Cherry Blossom fest is explosion of Japanese culture
Photo by Jason Speakman


Kings Countians rubbed elbows with anime icons and samurai warriors at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden last weekend during its annual Cherry Blossom Festival, a celebration of Japanese culture that drew attendees from places almost as faraway as the Asian nation itself.

“It was amazing,” said Kenny Fong, a teenage artist who traveled from distant New Jersey for the event. “I had a great time.”

Many of the Japanophiles who flocked to the Prospect Heights green space for the two-day affair showed up in costume to partake in its Saturday and Sunday fashion shows, the latter of which featured plenty of cartoon- and video-game-inspired ensembles, according to Fong.

“There was one guy who cosplayed as Cloud from Final Fantasy, and he had a replica of his sword that was almost real-life size,” he said of the festival’s ninth-annual cosplay fashion show. “I was like, ‘Wow, that’s really nice.’ ”

Organizers of the two-day affair dubbed Sakura Matsuri treated attendees to other entertainment that included live performances by kabuki dancers, Taiko drummers, Japanese pop singers — and, of course, the spectacle that was gazing upon the garden’s blooming trees themselves.

This year’s was the Botanic Garden’s 37th iteration of the festival, which unfolds around its Japanese Hill and Pond Garden dotted with Kanzan, Okame, and other cherry-tree species, all of which blossom for about a week before loosing their buds.

But not all of the green space’s trees flower simultaneously, and locals who missed the fun still have time to scope out the seasonal phenomenon before the cherry trees stop blooming in mid-May, according to information from the Botanic Garden.

Reach reporter Colin Mixson at cmixson@cnglocal.com or by calling (718) 260-4505.
Samurai showdown: From left, festival-goers Kaoru Tani and Kenny Fong displayed their love for Japanese culture by paying homage to the nation’s traditional fighters.
Photo by Jason Speakman