While there were plenty of activities at San Francisco’s Cherry Blossom Festival to report on, there was just as much for the same festivities on the other side of the United States. In the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, New York had its own Sakura Matsuri, filled with visitors and cosplayers in the bright Spring sun.
As the event was held in the Botanical Gardens, it was not free to get into; admission cost around $25, although that did nothing to make the event any less crowded. Near midday, the park was swarmed with attendees, making the food lines long but the festival quite festive indeed.
On a food-related note, there was a food stand and a cafeteria, both offering the same pricey options. The location didn’t make itself welcome to the same restaurants and vendors that the California festivals enjoy, but as it was in the middle of New York, good offsite options were not hard to find.
The botanical gardens were very scenic, and the cherry blossoms were blooming nicely. There was a walkway around a large lake, which was moving slow from the foot traffic, but it wasn’t hard to find a good view of the surroundings. The area was quite large, so finding a good place to sit and watch was not a problem, though certainly easier earlier in the day.
There were two stages set up in different areas of the park, each with different shows to see. The larger one was reserved for big events – ceremonies, announcements, taiko drummers, traditional Japanese dances, and other such shows throughout the weekend. The smaller one, a nice walk away, was a more intimate setting, often with featured cosplayers talking about their craft.
Which brings us to the cosplayers. Initially, I wasn’t sure how similar or different they’d be from those I’m familiar with in California, but fans are fans no matter where you go. Like anywhere else, the cosplayers there were talented, cheerful, and friendly, for the most part. Certain series are popular no matter where you go, so anime like Attack on Titan and Pokemon had just as many cosplayers there as they would anywhere else. There were complex ones, simple ones for walking about, plenty of kimonos, and even some we don’t see very often. The things all cosplayers there had in common? A love for their series and a desire to have a good time.
While quite different from the SF CBF in many regards, the New York Sakura Matsuri was an entertaining experience, and provided plenty of entertainment throughout the day. It may be a bit pricey and crowded, but well worthwhile.