For most cosplayers, con season is the busiest time of the year when it comes to conventions. Every cosplayer’s con season is different, but usually, the busiest time of the year for conventions is the right before, during, and right after summer.
My con season was a bit crazy in 2017, so I wanted to talk about some of the events I attended. These are events I ended up attending as a press or cosplay guest, and as a result, I was able to see all sorts of aspects of each event from the inside out. Now that the events and my con season are just about over, I want to share my experiences and information about each event so you can check them out for yourself next year!
In this post, let’s talk about Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden!
What Is Sakura Matsuri?
Sakura Matsuri celebrates cherry blossom season, as the blossoms begin to bloom and reach their peak potential around the time of the year that these events are held. Many events are held within the United States, including the one held every year at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden.
From the garden’s website, “Sakura Matsuri offers over 60 events and performances that celebrate traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. The festival celebrates the Japanese cultural tradition of enjoying each moment of the cherry blossom season.”
The event is always both weekend days, usually sometime in April or early May. It is held from 10AM-6PM both days.
What Can You Do There?
There are tons to do at this event! The Brooklyn Botanical Garden always posts their schedule on their website, and hands out guides to allow visitors to plan our their day.
Part of Sunday’s festivities included traditional taiko drumming by Soh Daiko and Taiko Masala. It was hard not to get excited and caught up in the drummer’s mesmerizing movements and coordination. I was able to sit in the front to watch Taiko Masala, and I absolutely recommend listening to them – especially live. You can truly feed off of their energy and passion for their instruments and culture. It’s impossible to take your eyes off of them.
There are dance and martial arts performances including the Japanese Folk Dance Institute of New York and Samurai Sword Soul. Traditional tea ceremonies, manga drawing workshops, tours of the bonsai museum and Japanese garden, Shogi and Kendama games to play, and performances by groups such as KuroPOP.
There is tons of food to eat made available at the event, all Japanese of course. There are snacks to purchase at the event or at the Japanese market where you can also purchase products and goods like handmade hair ornaments, kokeshi dolls, green tea, pottery, and more.
Cosplay is optional, and many people also choose to wear kimono or yukata, lolita fashion, or other clothing from Japanese culture. None of these are required, of course. On Sunday, the annual cosplay fashion show is always held on the main stage. You can enter to walk the fashion show on the BBG’s website when the 2018 event page is up.
How Much Is It? How Do I Get There?
The price of admission will depend on if you’re a regular attendee, a student, or a member of the Brooklyn Botanical Garden. Regular attendees paid $30 for admission this year, and students paid $25 while children under 12 went in for free.
The event is held rain or shine, and I absolutely recommend taking public transportation over driving. Parking is very limited and you’ll find yourself spending more time while driving around looking for a spot than at the festival. There is a subway station located nearby for easy access from any of the other 5 boroughs or Long Island.
Cosplay Fashion Show!
The cosplay fashion show is always held on Sunday as the last event of the festival. It is a 45-minute fashion show – no winners or losers, just wonderful cosplayers walking down a runway of sorts to share their creations with the crowd. Take a peek below to see some of the cosplayers I saw while walking the event, as well as photos of the cosplayers walking the runway!
I only went on Sunday this year, and I got to the event around noon. It was a cloudy day, a bit chilly for once as usually when I go it is fairly warm. The cherry blossoms were in full bloom, as were many other flowers throughout the garden. It was beautiful to just walk around and explore the gorgeous view that stretched as far as the eye could see.
Like I mentioned earlier, there are lots to see and do at the event; you won’t ever find yourself bored. I didn’t buy anything, but it always amazes me walking through the market to see what’s available and what they’re offering this year. When you’re walking the Japanese Market, the J-Lounge Stage is right there with performances scheduled throughout the day. They have a few rows of inflatable chairs for visitors to sit and enjoy the acts unless you’d rather stand or sit on the grass.
The only event I watched at the J-Lounge Stage this year was KuroPOP’s act. This quintet from New York City love to sing, dance, and perform together, displaying their talent in mastering choreography and synchronization. Absolutely check them out if you see them at an event near you; they’re very enjoyable to watch.
I walked around and talked to many cosplayers, got a few photos, and really spent most of my time admiring the flowers. If you love flowers or nature, you should check out the Brooklyn Botanical Garden just for that.
Every year, I never get to fully explore Sakura Matsuri because I find myself attending a small handful of scheduled items that take up so much time which in turn leaves me with no time to see anything else. But that right there is a push to return the next year to try something new and get a look at the beauty that is Japanese culture first hand. There’s so much to know and explore and learn about, and this event is a wonderful opportunity to do so. I’m hoping to catch a tea ceremony next year as I’ve always wanted to attend one and gain more knowledge about them.
I would recommend this event to anyone that has an interest in learning about Japanese culture, anyone that enjoys nature, and anyone that enjoys cosplay. No, cosplay is not the main focus of the event but it certainly brings people in as a result. However, I find it to be a wonderful way for new or younger cosplayers to start meeting fellow local cosplayers and get used to large settings and gatherings. And while they’re there, they can learn more about where their favorite anime came from and what that country has to offer. It’s a win-win.
Be sure to check out Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanical Garden in 2018! More information will be available as we get closer to the spring, So once the new year rolls in, check out bbg.org.
See you next year!