Cherry Blossoms, Japan Block Fair Bring Thousands to Roosevelt Island




It was a chilly and windy spring day for the Third Annual Roosevelt Island Cherry Blossom Festival, but that didn’t stop thousands of people from enjoying Japan Block Fair, the entertainment, and, of course, the cherry blossoms. The blossoms weren’t in full bloom, but there were enough to have everyone’s cameras snapping away.

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The Roosevelt Island Tram brings visitors from Manhattan

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Taking photos of the blossoms

People waited patiently in long lines for the best Japanese street food, such as okonomiyaki, grilled squid, yakisoba, curry, and teriyaki balls.

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Festival fun

You could escape the crowd and the lines by walking to the southern tip of Roosevelt Island, where the FDR Four Freedoms Park opened almost six months ago. There, with the abandoned Smallpox Hospital in the background, bands like Neo Blues Maki performed. Neo Blues Maki is a unique hybrid, setting the Japanese ballad enka against a soundtrack of New York-inspired R&B, gospel, and rock ‘n’ roll.

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Neo Blues Maki

The best part of the festival was the Sake Garden, a fenced-in area with Japanese beer and sake for sale. The scene was reminiscent of the Japanese tradition of o-hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, with people sitting on blankets under the trees, enjoying beverages and snacks.

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O-hanami!

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Lantern

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Sakura! Sakura!