Documents: NewArticle: In Your Community:

Sakura Matsuri Returns to Brooklyn Botanic Garden
by BBG
April 4, 2017

Annual Cherry Blossom Festival Celebrates Japanese Culture for 36th Year Saturday, April 29 & Sunday, April 30, 2017 | 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s cherry blossom festival, Sakura Matsuri, the largest event held in a U.S. public garden and widely viewed as New York City’s rite of spring, returns on Saturday, April 29, and Sunday, April 30, 2017. The annual festival—now in its 36th year—is the highlight of the Garden’s renowned hanami (“cherry blossom viewing”) season. Based on the Japanese tradition of appreciating the beauty and fleeting nature of cherry blossoms, hanami at Brooklyn Botanic Garden draws New Yorkers and visitors from around the world each spring to view one of the most spectacular cherry blossom displays in North America.

Sakura Matsuri’s festivities extend beyond the flowering trees to celebrate both traditional and contemporary Japanese culture with over 60 dynamic performances, enriching demonstrations, and thought-provoking exhibits.

The full event schedule is available at

New and Returning Performers

This year, Sakura Matsuri welcomes Tokyo indie rock duo Uhnellys, whose sound bends the boundaries between rock, electronica, and hip-hop. Also new this year, the J-Music Ensemble performs jazz inspired by anime and video game theme songs, while at the other end of the spectrum, Kuni Mikami and East of the Sun play jazz-flavored renditions of traditional Japanese folk songs. KENYC showcases the surprisingly acrobatic potential of the traditional kendama cup-and-ball toys of Japan, backed by beats courtesy of DJ Panic.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s Parasol Society Fashion Show, a prim and proper pageant of grand proportions, featuring live music by the J-Music Ensemble, returns on Saturday, and the Eighth Annual Sakura Matsuri Cosplay Fashion Show, a lively highlight of the festival, closes the celebration on Sunday afternoon, accompanied by the furious beats of Brooklyn’s own Taiko Masala drum ensemble, with hosts Becka Noel and Dhareza Cosplayza.

Performers and artists from Japan converge in Brooklyn each year for Sakura Matsuri: Tea ceremony master Soumi Shimizu travels from Tokyo to join daughter Sokyo Shimizu in an expanded series of their popular traditional tea presentations. Takarabune Dance arrives from Shikoku to perform its take on the 400-year-old Awa Odori folk dance.

Artists hailing from NYC include longtime Sakura Matsuri performer Yoshi Amao, who returns as the festival’s master of ceremonies, and leading martial arts group Samurai Sword Soul. New York’s preeminent traditional Japanese dance troupe, Dancejapan, returns with founder Sachiyo Ito, and the Japanese Folk Dance Institute of NY performs a flower hat procession among visitors. Taiko drumming by Soh Daiko, Taiko Masala, Cobu, and NY Suwa Taiko Kids All Stars excite visitors with stirring beats.

Japanese Arts and Games

Sakura Matsuri showcases Japanese arts and pop culture, including manga art, comedy, games, crafts, and more. In the Osborne Garden, the minds behind CosplayNYC provide tips to get your cosplay style on point. Stand-up comic Rio Koike’s magnificent magic show returns to Brooklyn from Japan. Manga fans can meet authors and illustrators Rumi Hara, Jed Henry, Sophocles Plokamakis, Kate T. Williamson, and Misako Rocks! for book signings and demonstrations. Visitors can also see demonstrations of the traditional—and now trendy—Japanese kendama cup-and-ball toy with KENYC or play shogi (Japanese chess) or go with local experts. In the Rotunda and Conservatory, visitors can view masterful origami displays by Taro’s Origami Studio.

Japanese Market

The Japanese Market in the Osborne Garden offers delectable treats and unique shopping experiences. Foodies can sample exquisite wagashi desserts by Minamoto Kitchoan, sweets by Sapporo-based Royce’ Chocolate, and custom Sakura Matsuri chocolate flavors and more by Brooklyn’s own Raaka Chocolate. Delightful wooden kokeshi dolls handcrafted in northern Japan by Kyoohoo are on display and for sale. Visitors can also purchase vintage kimonos straight from Japan, Japanese pottery, manga-inspired accessories, and other items for the home.

Kids and Families

Children and families can enjoy all-day performances, as well as kid-centric activities including a series of Sohenryu Family Tea Ceremonies with masters Soumi Shimizu and Sokyo Shimizu, manga drawing and origami workshops, Bamboo Insect Hotel Crafting workshops in the Discovery Garden, and cutout selfie stands that let kids picture themselves as a samurai warrior or daikon radish.

Tours and Dining

Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s renowned Japanese horticultural collections can be seen in tours of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, and a special exhibit from the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum. Visitors can recharge in the Garden’s new Yellow Magnolia Café, as well as at pop-up dining stations throughout the Garden offering Japanese lunches, snacks, and beverages.

Cherry Blossoms at Brooklyn Botanic Garden

The Garden’s annual cherry display is tracked on’s CherryWatch page, which maps the main cherry collection and provides up-to-the-petal updates on each tree’s blooming status, as well as detailed information about each cultivar. 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 the Garden’s visitor photo pool on Flickr.

Advance ticket purchase required. Visit to purchase tickets. Members always enter free. Visit to become a Garden member.

Admission to Sakura Matsuri is $30 for adults and $25 for students (ages 12 to 17) and seniors (age 65 and over) with ID. Garden members and children under 12 years of age enter for free. Admission fees are charged all weekend during Sakura Matsuri. Events are free with festival admission and will be held rain or shine.

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