Blossoms Bloom at Japanese Festival

By Samantha Castro ’16 and Kieran Bissessar ’16

Sakura Matsuri invaded The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens on April 25 and April 26. Despite the name of the festival (which is Japanese for “cherry blossom festival”), it not only showcased the cherry blossom trees, but also exhibited Japanese culture. The festival had a huge turnout: couples, families, and groups of friends went to experience contemporary Japanese culture. “I didn’t expect so many people to be here,” said Joshua Pilipovsky ’16. “I needed a breather this weekend. I guess other people had the same idea.” At the festival, you could find a lot of people cosplaying. Cosplaying is the act of dressing up as a character from an anime, television show, video game, movie, or other forms of media. The costumes varied from puffy and pastel colored dresses to samurai armor and swords. “Since I watch a lot of anime, it was cool seeing cosplayers and recognizing who they are,” said Aaron Mindanao ’16. Even though it was a Japanese festival, other ethnicities went as well. Their interest in Japanese culture brought them all together. Many Japanese products, from lovely paintings on wall scrolls to vintage kimonos, were sold in Osborne Garden. Though everything there was pricey, there were still many people rushing to buy as much as they could carry. The Osborne Garden was also where the activities for children took place. There were boards covered with colorful drawings of original anime characters, drawing stations, tea making, and origami workshops. The parents smiled as they watched their kids sit at the small pink tables and had a great time. “It’s great to see how excited the kids get,” said Tyler Leslie ’16, an employee who has been working at the garden for three years. “Also, its nice to see the ones who are more shy come out of their shells and participate. However, there’s always those adults that try to sneak in and say they’re a child at heart.” The famous cherry blossom trees could be found at the Cherry Esplanade. Sadly, not all the trees were in bloom, but those that did blossom looked grand with a large score of light pink flowers. Even though the trees were surrounded by people taking selfies and group shots, the sunny day and the beautiful trees made the setting look picturesque. “It’s nice walking with your friends and looking at the sakura trees when the weather is nice outside,” said Jian Cheng Huang ’15. Also taking place at the Cherry Esplanade were live performances. There was a huge stage surrounded by green leaf trees and pink cherry blossom trees. People sat on the bright green grass as they watched professional taiko drummers, various dances, and even a kawaii (Japanese word for “cute”) cosplay fashion show. “It’s interesting to see their style and taste of music compared to ours,” said Karen Cherkas ’16. The performers were fully engaged with the audience. During an intermission, there was a ‘longest voice’ contest. Whoever was able to stay on a certain note, without taking a breath for the longest, won. The performers picked out random people from the audience and gave them prizes even if they didn’t win. Hands were rapidly thrown in the air whenever the performer would ask for the next contestant. In addition, the audience danced along with the performers at the final musical performance. “The involvement of the crowd makes everything come to life,” said Leslie ’16. “Everything about it is vibrant, carefree, and meaningful.”

Cherry Blossoms

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