Sakura Matsuri: A Celebration of Japanese Culture at BBG

April 26 and 27, 2014 | 10 a.m.–6 p.m.

Sakura Matsuri: A Celebration of Japanese Culture at BBG
Sakura Matsuri at Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photos by Mike Ratliff, courtesy of

Release Date: April 9, 2014

Brooklyn, NY–Brooklyn Botanic Garden’s (BBG) cherry blossom festival, Sakura Matsuri—popularly considered NYC’s rite of spring and the largest event in a U.S. public garden—returns for its 33rd year on April 26 and 27, 2014. 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, many of which have been commissioned to showcase the best of traditional and contemporary Japanese culture. The festival’s distinctive entertainment and community spirit attracts one of the largest, most colorful audiences for a cultural event in the city.

Sakura Matsuri 2014 features a focus on Japanese fashion, with runway shows of the BBG Parasol Society and cosplay enthusiasts and presentations of traditional kimono wear. BBG’s Cosplay Fashion Show—the only outdoor cosplay fashion show in the country—presents more than 20 of the city’s most extravagant and talented cosplayers to a crowd of thousands.

Many performers travel from Japan annually to participate in BBG’s Sakura Matsuri, including Ryukyu Chimdon Band, a bubbly Okinawan pop band; the Home Island Project of Shikoku, presenting a festive Awa Odori parade; and nonagenarian tea ceremony master Soumi Shimizu. Other festival artists hail from the five boroughs, including Soh Daiko, the East Coast’s premier taiko drum ensemble; composer Hitomi Himekawa and effervescent J-pop group the Rainbow Bubble Girls; and Yoshi Amao, longtime Sakura Matsuri master of ceremonies, martial artist, and samurai sword expert. Additional programming includes samurai sword demonstrations, traditional Japanese dance, demos in Japanese arts such as ikebana flower arranging, hands-on workshops in manga, origami, and other activities for children and families.

A press preview/photo opportunity will take place on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, from 10 a.m. to noon.

Preregistration for the press preview is necessary and space is limited; to preregister for the press preview or for press passes to Sakura Matsuri, please send name, media affiliation, and email address to: by April 18. Press passes will be distributed during Sakura Matsuri at BBG’s entrance at 990 Washington Avenue.

High-resolution images of Sakura Matsuri and the cherry blossom season at BBG are available at To arrange an interview or for further information, please contact or 718-623-7241.

Sakura Matsuri favorites returning in 2014 include the following:
  • Taiko drumming by Soh Daiko, Taiko Masala, Cobu, and NY Taiko Aiko Kai Kids’ Team
  • Samurai Sword Soul’s new action-packed martial arts drama
  • Cosplay fashion show returning for its fifth exciting year
  • Dancejapan with Sachiyo Ito, presenting nihon buyo classical dance
  • The Japanese Folk Dance Institute of NY’s beloved hanagasa odori (flower hat dance) procession
  • Traditional tea ceremonies with Urasenke Chanoyu Center, and Japanese masters Soumi Shimizu and Sokyo Shimizu
  • Ikebana flower arranging with expert Fumiko Allinder
  • Vintage kimonos for sale from YokoDana Kimono
  • Talk by BBG’s bonsai curator, Julian Velasco, with tour of the C.V. Starr Bonsai Museum
  • Tour of the Japanese Hill-and-Pond Garden led by BBG Garden Guides

  • BBG’s Osborne Garden will feature manga and other contemporary Japanese culture, including the following:
  • BBG’s Parasol Society Fashion Show, featuring Tokyo goth girls and guys, Victorian maidens, and sweet shepherdesses
  • Drawing workshops, demonstrations, and talks with manga comic master Misako Rocks and ukiyo-e illustrator and video game creator Jed Henry
  • The J-Lounge manga journal, where festival visitors can sketch their favorite Sakura Matsuri sightings
  • Illusions from magician Rich Kameda, performing classic tricks with a Japanese twist
  • The Awa Odori Parade, a festive procession by Home Island Project of Shikoku, Japan
  • Composer Hitomi Himekawa and effervescent J-pop group the Rainbow Bubble Girls
  • IchiP Dance Party, Brooklyn’s own anime dance trio

  • Kids’ activities include the following:
  • Hands-on workshops and games, including manga-inspired photo-op boards, origami, taiko drumming, rice shaker making, and manga drawing
  • A children’s Suzuki recital and kids’ taiko performance to introduce the next generation of Japanese music masters

  • The full event schedule is available at The cherry display is tracked on BBG’s web-based CherryWatch feature, 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 #bbgcherries. 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 Garden admission and will be held rain or shine.

    Advance tickets can be purchased online. Brooklyn Botanic Garden members and ticket holders skip the lines. Visit to become a BBG member.

    Lead sponsorship for Sakura Matsuri 2014 is provided by National Grid.
    Image, top of page: