Spring has sprung here in New York! While it is quite beautiful everywhere (no matter where you are really), I do have to say that I appreciate living on the Northeast Coast during this time of year. The advent of a warmer season feels extra special when you get to see cherry blossoms and tulips in full bloom and listen to chirping birds. Cherry blossoms and magnolia trees certainly add to a special vibe in late April and May. And they usually only blossom anywhere between 3-6 weeks. Since our winter this year was pretty harsh, I’ve only seen them around for the past 2 weeks.
With a spring-like attitude, I became excited last weekend when I was able to combine my love for nature with a special event I had missed out on during the past 5 springs. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden hosts “Sakura Matsuri” every year around the end of April. This is the Brooklyn version of the Japanese Cherry Blossom festival and it takes part on one weekend only. This past Sunday I finally got to check it out. Even more magnificent was that the weather held up and I barely needed a jacket.
Sakura Matsuri started early at 10 am. I didn’t get there until about 1:30 pm, though. Despite missing out on the morning events, I still had a blast and stayed until around 5pm. The Botanic Garden was packed with couples, families, tourists, friends, and people who had come alone (like me). The day program was certainly geared towards families and (smaller) children, but I had fun no matter what and would encourage single adults to come here anytime.
If you bring cash, you are able to skip the line. I didn’t notice this until I was almost inside already but for future events it’s certainly worth knowing. Also, the line seemed extraordinarily long (like almost all lines here in New York, be it grocery store or event queues) but was moving at a steady pace. So don’t let the masses discourage you from entering.
Once inside, I went straight to Osborne Garden, where a variety of vendors were offering Japanese-themed items for sale. From traditional Japanese footwear (think clog-like shoes) over sun umbrellas to kimonos there was an array of interesting goods to look at. I was certainly drawn towards buying my own cherry blossom tree seed and planting it in my living room when I noticed how small my living room really is and that I will only have the tree in full bloom for a few weeks out of the year. I therefore was more interested in hand-made manga and edible goodies. Strolling past the interesting vendors, I made my way towards the Cherry Esplanade, where a huge stage had been built up, and watched the Samurai Sword Soul show for a while.
At certain times, I was able to watch magician Rich Kameda play with my visual mind and fold origami-style pieces of paper together.
There were lots of other shows going on but I thought one of the more interesting parts was to observe the high volume and creative variety of costumes some of the visitors were displaying. In that sense, the event reminded me of the bi-annual Jazz fest, since people become overly excited about a different culture and era and like to dress up according to the occasion.
Overall, the Cherry Blossom Festival was a great success and a lot of fun to check out. I’d also recommend simply strolling the Brooklyn Botanic Garden on any given day during the week at this time of year. Tuesday and Saturday morning are free of charge, so visitors get to see the colorful trees and many other plants at no cost.