Cherry Blossoms with Cosplay

One of the true signs of spring is being celebrated this weekend, along with all things Japanese.

Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden is the annual festival of Japanese culture. It often coincides with the flowering of the garden's hundreds of cherry trees.

The festival features music and dance, traditional food and tea ceremonies, kimonos and flower arrangement, as well as bonsai and samurai sword swinging. And it also brings a more modern touch with two fashion shows — one featuring manga and anime costuming, known as cosplay, and another featuring the Brooklyn Parasol Society.

The Brooklyn Parasol Society features Japanese street fashions inspired by Victorian clothing, also known as Lolita fashion.

The BBG Parasol Society. Photo by Mike Ratliff. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

Charles Battersby, a Brooklyn-based playwright and actor, will be participating in both shows. He explained the difference between the two. Cosplay, he said, is "fans dressing up as characters from fictional worlds that they see in manga or anime or video games" while "The Lolita fashion is an entirely different subculture. It's not a costume but rather a fashion style."

The 4th annual BBG Cosplay Fashion Show, curated by New York Comic Con, and hosted by Uncle Yo. Photo by Mike Ratliff. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

 

A visitor at Sakura Matsuri. Photo by Elizabeth Peters. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.

While the festival often coincides with the flowering of the garden's hundreds of cherry trees, this year's long cold winter may have delayed the peak blooming a bit. Still, program director Anita Jacobs says that's not necessarily a bad thing.

"It's actually a really good reminder to step back from the New York-y way of thinking that we control things around us, that we control our environment," she said, "Nature's going to roll out and do what it's going to do."

Cherry Esplanade during Sakura Matsuri. Photo by Mike Ratliff. Courtesy of Brooklyn Botanic Garden.