Traditional and Contemporary Japanese Culture at BBG's Sakura Matsuri
The cherry trees weren’t in full bloom at Brooklyn Botanic Garden this weekend, but that didn’t keep throngs of people from enjoying the thirty-third Sakura Matsuri.
Popularly considered New York’s rite of spring and the nation’s largest event in a public garden, Sakura Matsuri was all about performances, demonstrations, and exhibits that showcased the best of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture.
The two-day festival made use of the entire expanse of Brooklyn Botanic Garden, from the Cherry Esplanade, to Osborne Garden, to Magnolia Plaza, to the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, and to the Rotunda. Cherry blossoms (and the hint of them), kimono, cosplay outfits, and bento were everywhere to be seen in the midst of classical dance, taiko drumming, and fashion shows.
BBG Parasol Society Fashion Show was a parade of ruffles and Lolita styles set to the sugary sweet songs featuring J-pop singer Hitomi Himekawa of Rainbow Bubble. The spectacle of Tokyo goth gals, Victorian maidens, and Boho Bo-Peeps on the main stage was in contrast to the kimono show that followed it.
Japan Performing Arts, Inc. and Emi Kikuchi of Kimono Experience put together a beautiful display of seasonal kimono, and yours truly was one of the emcees, along with Lisa Birzen, a writer for Chopsticks NY. It was a pleasure to be part of an educational and entertaining presentation of traditional and contemporary Japanese garments. The packed house appreciated all of the styles, from formal homongi to the swinging sleeves of the furisode to the men’s hakama and especially the wedding kimono.
As a little interlude in between all of the information was a great dance number followed by Japanese language class students from CUNY, the New School, and Queens College properly putting yukata and obi in under three minutes.