Friday, May 5, 2017


When you plan on an outdoor adventure Mother Nature can easily play havoc on your plans but last Saturday it couldn't have been better for a trek out to Brooklyn and the Brooklyn Botanic Gardens. It was definitely the end of an extravagant show for the cherry blossoms but oh what a spectacular ending it was.
There's a saying my mother used when it was raining while the sun was shining. She'd say to us, "Well the devil must be beating his wife". Back then this wouldn't have been considered a misogynistic statement or an incident of spousal abuse especially coming from my Mom but I remembered this homily as the sun shown in the garden and we were showered with pink tears the winds sweeping through the cherry trees as they dropped their petals last Saturday.
Sakura Matsuri is the Japanese festival welcoming spring at the time the buds of the cherry trees open like a company of ballerina's tutus. It is a rebirth and awakening like a country of bears coming out of hibernation.
The Sakura Matsuri festival runs for two days at the end of April. I had bought my ticket online for Saturday, the first day of the Japanese event. Those of us who chose to go on Saturday had probably picked the best of the two days. With Saturday's wind I doubt there would have been many of the delicate blossoms left by Sunday.
There are many reasons to come to this peaceful festival. Many visitors come just to look at the pastel colors of spring. The smell of lilacs, the colors of the tulip trees and the warm air are the way we along with nature shed our winter coats.
It's the time where the fragrance of a new beginning fills the air
It's a time for plumage to reign and for the Japanese it's a time to display the demure elegance of their culture. There's an enticing nature to the women that dress in their traditional costumes.
They stand statuesque in and amongst the cherry blossoms sheltering their delicate complexions from the strength of the sun and exposing their serene beauty to all of us westerners.
Many of non-Japanese revelers come to commandeer the party atmosphere taking on the traditional costumes
adding their own twist.
It seems like everyone is welcome to get into the act
and gender is no barrier
There's something to the festival that generates a communal feeling
where there's almost a transformation back to the sixties and a Kumbaya expression of freedom and joy
As with so many things in life there's also a yin to the yang.
There's a dark side out there as well with masks and overt seduction
There's almost a creepiness where the possessed seem trancelike
and very other worldly
But one can't ignore the people who've just come out to have fun
with costuming that reflects comic con characters
or just plain old-fashioned cartoons
As I was walking out a procession of Hanagasa dancers was just entering the park with their flowered hats and beautiful costumes.
Their ages ranged the spectrum. All ethnicities were welcome,
but the most watchable were the trailing children mimicking their elders who led the group
This was my second trip to the festival and I have to say I wouldn't miss it.
I love the opportunity of running around with my iPhone as my eyes trying to capture
the amazing beauty that came around every corner you turned.
It was there in historic culture.
It was there in a rainbow of color.
It was there in the sheer joy of participation.
It was there in the romance that awakens in spring with a torrent of pick petals.

A Tokyo Beauty, 1897
Kimbei Kusakabe, photographer
Represented by Peter Fetterman Gallery, Santa Monica, CA

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