Traditional Dances at the Sakura Matsuri Festival

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.

14 comments on “Traditional Dances at the Sakura Matsuri Festival

  1. New York has everything. Even Cherry Blossoms and Japanese festivals. Great photos of the dance and the blooms.

  2. I just love colorful cherry blossoms. This looks like a wonderful festival to attend and I’m glad you were able to go and experience it. Their costumes and props are beautiful and such a sight to see.

  3. Those cherry blossoms are so pretty, and isn’t the festival fortunate that the blooms were still around. This sounds like a festival I’d enjoy, especially watching the dances. Sometimes, I’m kind of glad when I can’t take good photos as it allows me to have an excuse to just relax and enjoy instead of trying to capture a good shot.

  4. Wow, I didn’t know there were cherry blossom trees and festivals to celebrate these traditions, although it’s New York, hello….looks like a lovely festival

  5. Hi Marcia, I was sad to miss the festival this year. I’m glad you were able to go and share the photos of the the event with us. It’s nice to see that the trees had nice blooms despite all the rains we had. I always enjoy the dances and drum performances. Your photos of the brought the fun and colors of the performances to life.

  6. I’d love to head out to some cherry blossom festivals but nature is unpredictable and so often the scheduled official festivals don’t coincide with maximum blossom peak. This year in Toronto, High Park reports their sakura are nearly a month behind. Great photos of the NY blossoms, Marcia!

  7. So true, Lesley. I was surprised to see so many trees. They must have a more rain resistant variety because I still see blossoms on trees in my neighborhood even though it’s rained heavily several times in the last few weeks.

  8. Hey Marisol & Keith, sorry you missed the festival but if you’re free this Sunday, it’s Japan day in Central Park. Like you I also like the dancing and drumming. Hope you have a good weekend.

  9. i ve been to this festival before (2005) it was awesome and beautiful especially the cherry blossom. it made me feel so relaxed. Plus the traditional way japanese dressed themselve looks so funny. They asked me to dress the same but at the time i reject because it looks a bit weird too me (now i wish i did).

    Thank for the good post really really fun to read and remind me of the time ^_^

  10. You’re welcome and thanks for stopping by. This is truly a fun festival. I love to see all the cherry blossoms and the costumes too. Glad you liked it too. Maybe next time you’ll wear a costume?

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