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Hanami, the Cherry Blossom Season

Begins Saturday, April 3
by Kate Blumm
March 21, 2010

Sakura Matsuri Cherry Blossom Festival: May 1 and 2, 2010

From April 3 to May 2, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) celebrates Hanami, the Japanese cultural tradition of viewing each moment of the cherry blossom season, from the first buds to the pink blossoms that fall like snow.

During Hanami, visitors can take a free Seasonal Highlights Tour (Saturdays and Sundays at 1 p.m.) focusing on the ethereal beauty of BBG’s Japanese plant collections and specialty gardens, including the more than 220 exquisite flowering cherries, the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum, and the Tree Peony Collection. Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s curator of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, Brian Funk, will also host a Meet the Curator session (Wednesday, April 14, at 4 p.m.). Throughout Hanami, the cherry display will be tracked in real time on BBG’s web-based CherryWatch feature, which maps the entire collection and provides daily blossom updates.

The four weeks of Hanami culminate in the Garden’s legendary two-day festival Sakura Matsuri—popularly referred to as “New York’s rite of spring”—a thrilling tribute to the Garden’s iconic collection of flowering cherries. Sakura Matsuri is scheduled for May 1 and 2, from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. each day, with over 60 performances, demonstrations, and exhibits—many of which are new and specially commissioned for the dynamic weekend celebration. Visitors of all ages are welcome to Sakura Matsuri, the nation’s largest event in a public garden.

During Hanami, visitors can also enjoy a selection of special Japanese entrées at BBG’s Zagat-rated Terrace Café and discover the Hanami Collection at BBG’s Gift Shop (both on-site and online at, featuring handpicked items inspired by the Garden’s blossoms and Japanese aesthetics.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden encourages all visitors to share their cherry blossom images in the Garden’s Hanami photo pool on Flickr.

About BBG’s Flowering Cherries and Hanami

Hanami is the Japanese term for cherry blossom viewing, around which there are long-established customs, such as strolling among the trees and capturing falling cherry petals in open palms. Brooklyn Botanic Garden is the nation’s finest site to experience Hanami, with more Japanese flowering cherries in one place, and a more diverse collection of cherry species, than anywhere else in the world outside of Japan.

BBG’s flowering cherry trees can be found throughout the Garden, with extraordinary concentrations on Cherry Esplanade, a broad field featuring a double allée of bright pink Prunus ‘Kanzan’; Cherry Walk, a meandering tree-lined path east of Cherry Esplanade; in the cherry cultivar area between Cherry Walk and Cherry Esplanade; and the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden, where weeping Higan cherries (Prunus subhirtella ‘Pendula’) drape their blossom-heavy branches over the water.


CherryWatch is a web-based feature of that tracks the blossom season in real time and provides a detailed guide to the history, cultivation, and care of BBG’s 220-tree cherry collection. With 42 species blooming at different times to create a spectacular five-week display, this is a great way to learn when first blossoms of each species appear and to plan visits throughout Hanami.

Sakura Matsuri 2010: May 1 and 2
Over the course of its 29-year history, Sakura Matsuri has evolved into one of the city’s most anticipated weekend events, as tens of thousands of visitors come to experience not only the breathtaking beauty of the cherry trees’ fleeting blossoms but also to learn about Japanese culture, traditional and contemporary, through two days of music, dance, martial arts, manga and anime art, workshops, demonstrations, and guided tours of the Garden’s plant collections.

Festival hours are from 10 a.m. to 6 a.m. on Saturday, May 1; and 10 a.m. to 7 p.m. on Sunday, May 2. All activities take place rain or shine, with indoor locations provided for most activities in the event of rain. A detailed schedule of the festival will be available at, and information is available by calling the public events hotline (beginning late March) at 718-623-7333. Admission fees will be charged all weekend, including Saturday from 10 a.m. to noon. (On all Saturdays without public programs scheduled, the Garden will continue to extend free admission from 10 a.m. to noon.)

Sakura Matsuri highlights:

  • Performances and demonstrations highlighting elements of traditional Japanese culture, including classical dance by Sachiyo Ito; urasenke and sohrenyu-style tea ceremonies; ikebana flower arranging; a thrilling karate demonstration with international dojo World Seido Karate, and earth-shaking taiko drumming
  • An electric performance by taiko drummers and rhythmic tap dancers COBU (founded by and featuring members of STOMP!); the return of Samurai Sword Soul and its original action dramas; and concerts by Brooklyn-based Japanese gypsy rock band Kagero and Okinawan-pop luminaries happyfunsmile
  • The return of the Sakura J-Lounge, featuring the best and brightest in manga and anime-inspired art and performances, including an Artist Alley with renowned manga creators like Misako Rocks!; a high tea for the Victorian maidens, boho bo-peeps, and Tokyo goth girls; an “Iron Cosplay” costume competition, and DJs spinning J-pop hits
  • Hands-on workshops for kids, inspired by both horticulture and Japanese culture, including an exploration into tea, taiko drumming, creating blossoms out of recycled materials; plus a kodomo hanagasa odori flower hat parade in which kids can join in

Visitor Services

With the exception of Sakura Matsuri, all Hanami programming is free with Garden admission.

For same-day ticket information, visit or call 718-623-7200. Visitors can also take home Japanese and cherry blossom–themed items like sushi pillows, haiku books, and sugarcane confections, plus Japanese treasures from the Garden and Gift Shops, or order from the online gift shop at

For more information on Hanami and Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s cherry blossoms, please visit

Founded in 1910, Brooklyn Botanic Garden (BBG) is an independent nonprofit institution committed to education, research, and the display of horticulture. Situated on 52 acres in the heart of Brooklyn, the Garden is home to over 12,000 kinds of plants and hosts more than 725,000 visitors annually.

Brooklyn Botanic Garden is open from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesday through Friday, and from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. on Saturday and Sunday. The Garden is closed on Mondays. Admission is $8 for adults and $4 for senior citizens (65 and older) and students with ID. Children under 12, all school groups, and Garden members are admitted free at all times. Seniors are admitted free all day Friday, and the Garden is free to the public all day on Tuesdays and until noon on Saturdays (except Saturdays of major Public Programs). For directions, please visit

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