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Botanic Garden’s (Blossomless) Cherry Blossom Festival Begins

The blooms for 2012 have come and gone, but the more than 60 Japanese music and dance events at the Sakura Matsuri fest are the true core of the weekend-long celebration.

 

There will be very few remaining cherry blossoms at this year's Sakura Matsuri festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. But that's of little concern to garden officials, who say that the festival is about Japanese culture as much as the blooms.

The festival includes more than 60 events over the next two days, with everything from traditional Japanese tea ceremonies, to taiko drumming to presentations on the art of manga.

"The festival is really a stand-alone event," said garden spokeswoman Kate Blumm. "Really no matter what state of the trees, the weekend promises an incredibly dynamic array of both traditional and contemporary performances."

Plus, Blumm added, thanks to the warm weather, the garden is full of flowers that usually come later in the season.

"Tree peonies right now are magnificent, there are azaleas, lilacs, tulips, and the first of our early roses," she said. "It’s just going to be jam packed with visual interest with or without the cherry blossoms."

The event, which the garden has hosted for the past 30 years, includes contemporary and traditional Japanese music and dance, ikebana flower arranging, Japanese DJs, and workshops for kids and adults.

Other returning favorites include the martial arts ensemble Samurai Sword Soul. Manga and anime activities include a live collaboration between Veronica Taylor (the voice of Pokémon) and artist Misako Rocks! Visitors can also play Sudoku, LaQ, shogi, and the game of go, and throughout the garden there will be hands-on activities for children. 

Closing the festival for the third year in a row is a fashion show of over a dozen renditions of Japanese manga and anime characters. Many visitors join in on the masquerade, becoming an attaction in themselves. "Sometimes people spend months and months working on their costumes," said Blumm. "And it’s sometimes hard to tell the difference between the visitors and the performers."

 

Festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday, April 28 and Sunday, April 29. Events are free with garden admission, which is $5 higher on those two days: $15 for adults and $10 for senior citizens and students. Children under 12 and garden members are free. Members also get to bypass the admission line, which can be long. 

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