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Sakura Matsuri: Cherry Blossom Festival at BBG in its 35th Edition
by BBG
April 24, 2016

Featuring over 60 Performances, Exhibitions, Workshops, and More

Showcasing Traditional and Contemporary Japanese Culture

Saturday, April 30, and Sunday, May 1 | 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s (BBG) cherry blossom festival, Sakura Matsuri—popularly considered New York City’s rite of spring and the largest annual event in a U.S. public garden—will celebrate its 35th edition on April 30 and May 1, 2016. Taking place during hanami, the Japanese tradition of enjoying each moment of cherry blossom season, Sakura Matsuri festivities extend beyond BBG’s spring blooms, with over 60 energetic and dynamic performances, demonstrations, and exhibits showcasing traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. This cultural event’s distinctive entertainment and community spirit attracts one of the largest, most colorful audiences in the city.

Among the performances this year is Yuzu’s Dream: An Urban Folk Odyssey, pairing J-pop phenomenon Yuzu with producer-choreographer Akim Funk Buddha in a spectacle of sound and origami-clad dance. The Asterplace brings high-octane J-rock with anime themes to the main stage on Saturday. Sachiyo Ito and Dancejapan and the Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York—two companies that have performed at every Sakura Matsuri over the past 35 years—will bring traditional dance artistry to the main stage. Several taiko drumming ensembles—including Taiko Masala, Soh Daiko, and Cobu—will bring their thunderous beats to the festival. On the J-Lounge Stage, standup comic Rio Kioke will introduce his Tokyo-flavored blend of laughter and magic; J-pop group 2UNE will offer its sunny stylings; and Charles Battersby will present “Cosplay 101” to introduce visitors to this popular performance art. BBG’s Parasol Society Fashion Show, a prim and proper pageant of grand proportions, will feature live music by the Hanami Ensemble. The Seventh Annual Sakura Matsuri Cosplay Fashion Show, a perennial favorite, will conclude the festival celebration on Sunday afternoon.

Performers and artists from all over Japan converge at Sakura Matsuri. Origami master Taro Yaguchi of Taro’s Origami Studio will travel from Tokyo for his Colossal Origami demonstration, which features nine-foot sheets of paper. The troupe Takarabune Dance will be on hand to perform the traditional 400-year-old awa odori dance from the island of Shikoku. Soumi Shimizu and Sokyo Shimizu and other tea masters will be part of BBG’s Tea Center, with an expanded two-day series of tea ceremonies and talks.

Kids and families will delight in hands-on activities, including a taiko drumming workshop; origami folding and manga drawing classes; a Bamboo Insect Hotel workshop, where kids craft lodging for their buggy friends; and the Sohenryu Family Tea Ceremony, with masters Soumi Shimizu and Sokyo Shimizu.

Other highlights include book signings with authors and illustrators Rumi Hara, Kate T. Williamson, Abby Denson, Kensuke Okabayashi, April Vollmer, and Misako Rocks!; workshops in manga drawing and origami; and displays of bonsai and ikebana flower arranging.

The Japanese Market at the Osborne Garden J-Lounge will feature handcrafted arts, crafts, fashion, and edibles. Traditional tenugui towels in an array of whimsical prints by Wuhao Tenugui Art; sushi pillows by Sushi Designs New York; curated vintage kimonos straight from Japan by YokoDana Kimono; tabi socks, ninja boots, and geta shoes, courtesy of GreenTea Design; chocolates inspired by Japanese flavors from Brooklyn’s own Raaka Chocolate and Japan's Royce' Chocolate Shop, and exquisite Japanese confections by Minamoto Kitchoan will be among the items for sale in the market.

This spring, Brooklyn Botanic Garden also celebrates the 100th anniversary of its iconic Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden. During Sakura Matsuri, visitors will have a chance to tour the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden with BBG Garden Guides. The annual cherry display is tracked on BBG’s CherryWatch web page, which maps the main part of the collection and provides a daily blooming status for each tree, as well as detailed information about each cultivar. This year, the Garden encourages visitors to share their own cherry blossom images—amateur or professional—on social media, including Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, using the hashtag #brooklynbotanic. Photographers can also post images in BBG’s visitor photo pool on Flickr.

Admission to Sakura Matsuri is $25 for adults and $20 for students (12 to 17) and seniors (65 and over). BBG members and children under 12 years of age enter for free. Admission fees will be charged all weekend during Sakura Matsuri. Events are free with festival admission and will be held rain or shine.

Advance tickets can be purchased online at Brooklyn Botanic Garden members and ticket holders skip the lines. Visit to become a BBG member. Please visit for information on special entrances, including express entrances for BBG members and advance ticket holders.

The full Sakura Matsuri 2016 schedule is available at

  • New Eden
  • Kids Garden
  • Plant a Row Grow a Row