The arrival of cherry blossoms usually signals the start of spring but with cool temperatures here in New York City over the last few weeks, I was surprised to see that many trees were still in bloom at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden’s 30th annual Sakura Matsuri Festival on Sunday.
The Sakura Matsuri festival is billed as a weekend celebration of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture, including Ikebana, tea ceremonies and as temperatures soared to the 70s, attracted thousands of adults and children. Thankfully, the lines into the festival moved quickly.
Several women turned out in colorful kimonos, many people were also dressed as anime characters. I also spotted a few samurai – probably from the samurai sword demonstration earlier in the day.
As I entered the Gardens, I noticed stalls selling books, footwear, handmade totes created from Japanese newspapers, wall scrolls and vintage kimonos. Just beyond them, a magician entertained a tent full of very animated kids.
I followed the crowds towards the Cherry Esplanade. I was searching for the traditional dances, which according to the program would begin about 15 minutes after I arrived. There was still time to get in some photos as I walked the grounds and people watched.
The Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York performed many of the dances. Unfortunately, I didn’t have a good spot for most of the hour-long performances, so I didn’t get many good photos but I didn’t miss the dances. One of the crowd favorites was the hanagasi odori, the flower straw-hat dance. The other was a dance that is traditionally performed by men — I’ve forgotten the Japanese name and forgot to ask my friends.
Here are some of my photos from the Sakura Matsuri festival:
At least two other cherry blossom festivals are scheduled to take place in the New York area this weekend but with all the rains today, I’m not sure there will be blooms left.
Linking up this week with Nancie’s Travel Photo Thursday at Budget Travelers Sandbox.