The Wonderfully Freaky: Sakura Matsuri at Brooklyn Botanical Garden

April 26, 2015 | Scott Lynch

All this weekend the Brooklyn Botanical Garden is hosting Sakura Matsuri, the crazy-popular celebration of Japanese culture and cherry blossoms.

As usual on Saturday, huge crowds caused total clusterfucks at all entrances, but once people got inside everyone seemed to be having a pleasant day, picnicking and lounging, watching the Taiko drumming and Samurai sword-fighting performances and such, and taking endless selfies in front of flowers. And though most of the actual cherry blossom trees were NOT in bloom for their namesake festival, there were enough photo ops on the grounds that no one felt cheated.

The highlight of Sakaru Matsuri, however, was once again the hundreds of cosplayers roaming the grounds, teenagers (mostly) who show up at the festival dressed as anime, manga, and video game characters that I have never heard of, but the creativity and love they put into their often handmade outfits was, for the most part, pretty impressive.

There’s also a whole contingent of “Lolita fashion” devotees, who have a definite Little Bo Peep vibe to them as well. Geisha girls and ninjas were amply represented as well.

Sakura Matsuri happens again today, Sunday, April 26, from 10:00 a.m. to 6:00 p.m. and, if anything, there will be tons more cosplayers on hand, as the big fashion show ends the weekend’s festivities starting at 5:15 on the main stage.

PRO TIP: if you’re going today, either buy your ticket in advance or, even better, bring cash and skip both mammoth lines outside the Eastern Parkway entrance and go straight to the totally ignored “cash only” tables located right past the box offices.

(Photos: Scott Lynch/ANIMALNewYork)