This past Saturday and Sunday the Sakura Matsuri Festival was held at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in Brooklyn, NY. For those that do not know The Sakura Matsuri Festival is a festival paying respects to the Sakura (cherry blossom trees) that are of huge importance and staple of Japan. They are quite beautiful to look at and before this past Saturday the only time I had ever seen one visually was in anime and Japanese movies. Before knowing the festival existed I believed that my only chance was to visit Japan itself.
I learned about the festival through several of my many meetup groups on meetup.com. If you have not joined, I seriously suggest you should, it is a website filled with people like you and I who have an interest or hobby, who then in turn create meetup and or clubs searching for people of the same hobbies, to eventually “meetup”. I know what you are saying who cares about the Sakura Matsuri Festival , all you went there was to look at some trees, that’s whack son! This is where you are wrong because not only where these gorgeous trees in every nook and cranny of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden but there were several Japanese related events and activities such as Taiko Drumming, J-Pop singers, Cosplay shoots, Samurai Sword Fighting, comedians and so much more.
Daniel Perez and I took the bus and then the subway train to the Garden from New Jersey. I in my traditional Happi (short kimono) outfit and not just any, a Icchi Ban Happi outfit and bandanna, one that many an Afro Samurai fan recognized. I tried to get Daniel to dress up, but he wanted to focus more on his photography and video reording duties. Anyway, we were both afraid that we were going to be rained out but the event is held rain or shine , so we were prepared for it. As soon as we got into the Garden it started raining and Daniel and I were in utter amazement on how gently and beautiful the Sakura Tree flowers fell to the ground. It started raining a bit hard so a huge percentage of the attendees, including us huddled under the Cherry Esplanade Stage tent where most of the performances were taking place.
It was amazing how many people actually came to the festival and of all ages, races and sizes, it truly was a beautiful thing, The Taiko Drumming was simply jaw dropping, the energy that the drummers had was amazing and the sounds were truly powerful as well, I cannot imagine seeing anyone heavy weight as a professional Taiko Drummer as it seems to be a very good workout. There is video and pictures below of the drummers, so you can hear for yourselves.
Within the tent there was also an array of Japanese souvenir goodies such as t-shirts, lucky cats, purses and more. I purchased a pink lucky cat, meant to help those in love and a Silly Girl Japanese figurine. To eat there was an array of traditional bento boxes, sake and cakes. I was good I did not drink! Daniel and I opted for a Japanese hot dog and Strawberry Soda. Ok, so the hot dog was not Japanese but the soda was and it was deliciously cool and refreshing, tasted kind of like Fanta.
After the Taiko Drumming was over, we walked around the garden in awe of its beautiful pond garden filled with Koi fish and Japanese architecture. The next event up was the Bushido: The Soul of Samurai. It was a sword fighting show and unfortunately we had gotten there a tad late and due to my stature I could not see anything but from what I heard and saw off peoples camera recordings and it sounded pretty amazing!
Later on we huddled to the very front of the stage where the last two performances of the day were being held. That being J-pop sensations Minami Kuzuki and Ai Kawashima. Before each singer went up we were all entertained by Yoshi the announcer, he was pretty hysterical and very how do I say “entertaining”. He brought up some audience members for some sword training and meditation skills.
First performer up was the lovely Minami Kuzuki, to me she was more of a Japanese Folk singer more than a J-POP singer but she has a beautiful voice nonetheless, she carried a snake skinned guitar which appeared to still have the snakes head on it. The second one up was the famous Ai Kawashima, now this girl I admire. Not only does she have the voice of a Nightingale but she has the heart of an angel. She was adopted at a very young age , later then to lose her parent at the tender age of 16. To make ends meat she started performing her own songs on the street , about 1,000 of them. She then found herself on the road to super stardom, though she has remained down to earth. So much so that every year she donates a school to a impoverished country. Countries Like West Africa and Ligeria. She has done all this and is only 23 years of age! She is truly a role model and I wish there were more people like here in the States, instead kids have to look up to Britney Spears and Miley as their role models!
There was a lot that we could not see but what I did see was remarkable. It was a 2 day event Saturday & Sunday May 2-3 and if the weather was permiting I would have tried my best to make it the second day. You can see all the events that took place here I highly recommend that you all make it next year because it truly was a very rewarding and unique experience!
A Big shout of to our top commenter and friend Knight28 who met up with us there, Knight also added to the array of pictures added! Thanks again you are an amazing photographer! Hope to see you all there next year, hopefully I will save up for an actual Kimono next time or cosplay as whatever anime I am into next year!