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Blossoms Galore: The Cherry Blossom Festival at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

Ellen Levitt

Posted on April 28, 2018 21:25

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The annual Sakura Matsuri (Cherry Blossoms) festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden drew a huge crowd to see its many beautiful plants, to watch performances and to ogle cosplay participants.

Spring-like weather came late to New York City this year, so thousands of visitors to the venerable Brooklyn Botanic Garden were eager to stroll the grounds and admire trees, flowers and lush lawns. In addition, many visitors came to be seen themselves, attired in outlandish cosplay clothing and props, as well as others who wore traditional Japanese styled garb, such as kimonos and parasols. 

The primary reason for holding a Cherry Blossom festival (known as Sakura Matsuri in Japanese) is to acknowledge the beautiful seasonal blossoming of these trees, often seen as beautiful but ephemeral, fragile. The custom originated in Japan and has spread throughout the world. In the United States, Washington, DC, as well as Philadelphia, Macon, San Diego and a few other cities are noted for their cherry blossom festivals, and Brooklyn's is considered one of the most prominent in the nation. 

The Brooklyn Botanic Gardens stages a two-day celebration of these trees and also shows off its other spring flowers, such as its many tulip varieties, daffodils, lilacs and more. Among the stage performances offered were taiko drumming, pop and jazz music groups and a flute concert, martial arts displays, a flower hat dance, traditional tea ceremonies and a hybrid act that combined Japanese-inspired dance with funk fashion.

An area was set up for people to play the board game Go, as well as tables and instruction in origami and other Japanese crafts. Activities for children as well as adults were provided. Sushi and other Japanese foods and drinks were available.

But the biggest attraction for just about everyone present was the abundant plant-life. Cherry blossom trees of various colors drew praise and camera action. Blossoming trees of white and varying shades of pink were the big hit of the day. In addition there were a few dozen varieties of tulips opening, in a wide variety of colors, from pale pastel pinks, purples and yellows, to bright reds, violets, yellows, oranges and more. There were also azalea trees in bloom, lilac bushes and more.

Throughout the Garden there were a few hundred visitors dressed as characters from anime series, animated shows influenced (and often made in) Japan. Predominantly teenagers but young adults as well, these cosplay (costumed) visitors sported unusual outfits, makeup, wigs and accessories. Many of them also acted like their characters. Mundanely dressed visitors posed with the cosplay visitors, and snapped numerous photos of each other. There were photo-ops for old-fashioned cartoony poses and a few highly admired artworks.

The Cherry Blossom festival in Brooklyn is a great opportunity to admire and commune with nature, to dabble in Japanese culture, to parade around in a quirky costume, and to mingle with people of various ages, ethnicities and interests. It brings together so many people, all fascinated with and curious about flowers and springtime fun. My family and I attended this year's edition and have done so for many years, enjoying it and celebrating all things spring.

Ellen Levitt

Posted on April 28, 2018 21:25

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Source: NBC 4i

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