Nothing says spring like cherry blossoms. And if you’re in the East Coast this weekend, you’re in luck. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden, which has more than 200 Japanese flowering cherry trees — the most diverse array outside Japan — will be holding its annual Sakura Matsuri cherry blossom festival. On May 1 and 2, come out and join tens of thousands as they revel in spring’s most picturesque display.
But it’s not just a botanical wonderland. The festival has evolved into a celebration of the best of both traditional and contemporary Japanese arts and culture — and you know what that means. Cosplay! Short for “costume play,” cosplay has become an integral part of any celebration of Japanese culture. Gawk at lush cherry blossoms and cosplayers alike, all while enjoying dance, martial arts, food, manga, workshops, demonstrations, and guided tours of the Garden’s Japanese-inspired plant collections.
There’s a lot going on in just a weekend, but highlights include:
* Traditional taiko drumming, as well as the more modern COBU, a taiko drum-meets-rhythmic footwork team founded by and featuring members of STOMP!
* Concerts by Brooklyn-based Japanese gypsy rock band Kagero
* Thrilling karate demonstrations and original action drama by Samurai Sword Soul
* One of the more popular events is the Sakura J-Lounge, which has been expanded to feature even more manga, anime, and cosplay culture,
including a “high tea” for the Victorian maidens and boho Bo-Peeps; a para para party with New York’s best anime dancers; and a stunning fashion show that demonstrates how creative cosplay can be.
And of course, there’ll be plenty of traditional Japanese arts and music like ikebana (flower arranging) and Japanese cuisine.
For festival hours, admission and schedule, check out the festival’s official site.
All photos courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.