Wednesday, April 29, 2009

From Green to Pink: Cherry Blossoms Return to BBG

This weekend, tens of thousands of visitors will flock to the Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) to experience what has become one of springtime’s most anticipated events: Sakura Matsuri, the annual Cherry Blossom Festival.

While this year is the 28th annual celebration, the cherry blossom trees have been around much longer. “Some of the original planting started in 1912, and the cherry walk was actually planted in 1921,” said Mark Fisher, BBG director of horticulture.

Today, the assortment of
trees in the garden is the largest and most diverse outside Japan. The festival, which will take place this Saturday and Sunday, May 2 and 3, will not only celebrate the trees, but also Japanese culture.

“We continue to add more projects and demonstrations and performers each year,” Fisher told the Eagle. “It reaches both the contemporary and the traditional Japanese culture.”

Among the attractions this weekend will include music from Japanese pop star Ai Kawashima; the Sakura J-Lounge, with a lineup of DJs spinning Japanese pop and rock; taiko (an ancient art of drumming) performances; traditional and contemporary Japanese dance; martial arts group Samurai Sword Soul; and the New York premiere of the film, Transcending — The Wat Misaka Story, a documentary about the first Japanese-American basketball player in the NBA.

Special this year is a collaboration between the garden and the N.Y. Anime Festival. Anime-lovers in costume will participate in the city’s largest cos-play (costume roleplay) photo shoot and visitors will be able to read and examine the Japanese comics, also called manga. Illustrator Misako Rocks! will also discuss inspiration for her manga and also lead a special children’s session.

“I’m very proud of [Sakura Matsuri]. I’m very excited because what it highlights for us — what people enjoy — are the plants. That’s really what we’re celebrating,” Fisher said. “Cherry blossoms symbolically represent the ephemeralness of life and how fast it fleets.

“I think we all start viewing it that way as we look at the cherries and enjoy the beauty — it only lasts just a couple of weeks,” he continued. “That’s it until next year, so it becomes special for all of us.”

For additional information and a full schedule of Festival events, visit

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