Are you a fan of Manga? If so, Sakura Matsuri at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens (BBG) is right up your alley. For me, had it not been for Sakura Matsuri (or Cherry Blossom Festival in Japanese), I would have never known about Manga. Manga is Japanese geek culture. Think psychedelic pink and green pigtails with thigh highs attached to a short flouncy pink ruffle skirt. Think Hello Kitty. Think…okay, some of you might be getting the wrong visual, so here are a few pics from the Cherry Blossom Festival to put things into perspective:
Okay, so I was intrigued, in fact more so with the Manga characters than the actual Cherry Blossoms I thought I was there for. I appreciate that Manga is part of Japanese culture, and Sakura Matsuri is a Japanese festival, but the Manga scene kind of took over the whole event and became somewhat of a distraction from the other attractions at the gardens. Perhaps, BBG should have a Manga Day Event and market it as such because they definitely have an audience.
I had to snap myself out of Manga-mania to refocus on the other Cherry Blossom Festival festivities. Namely, the Japanese Cherry Blossoms, Bonsai creations and Japanese cultural performances. As we strolled through the gardens, you couldn’t help but notice the beautiful varieties of Japanese Cherry Blossoms giving off a romantic and ethereal quality.
My hands down favorite of the gardens, drum roll please, were the bonsai displays quietly tucked away in a downstairs showroom. The sculptures were awe-inspiring! This was evidenced by the long stares and gazing of the festival goers. You just couldn’t take your eyes off some of the bonsai arrangements.
Lastly, the part I was most looking forward to…the Japanese cultural performances. I hate to report this, but they were somewhat of a let down. Not the actual performances, rather the fact that you could not see anything unless you were standing in the first few rows. There was one big tent in the middle of the gardens with a few hundred people clamoring to see the stage. Needless to say, I had to skip out on this. Perhaps, performances could take place in different viewing areas to break up the crowd a bit.
After enjoying the beautiful weather and sites at the Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, we headed over to the Japanese restaurant Geido for dinner. It was a short distance from the festival. The first thing I noticed upon arrival was a throng of people waiting outside. My first thought (and my hubby’s) was that the restaurant must not have opened yet for dinner and that people were waiting. That’s because everyone had a very assured, proactive stance as if they knew in just a short period of time that door would open and they could stuff their faces. However, once I stepped up to the crowd, the dreaded explanation came. These people were smiling and patiently waiting for a seat and, in fact, the restaurant had just opened 30 minutes ago. Two things crossed my mind at this moment. 1) Awesome! Geido’s food is so good that they are to full capacity within 30 minutes of opening. 2) Wow! All of my Culture Weekend peeps are here! Yeah, right.
As I stepped into Geido Restaurant, I was greeted by a friendly hostess who took my name and asked for me to wait outside. Thank God it wasn’t raining. During my brief glance inside, I was able to size up the entire restaurant. The establishment is small, has a funky graffiti decor (which I happen to love), and has some of the best sushi I’ve ever tasted! And isn’t that what really matters, the food, right? Another positive note, is that the chef and owner, Osamu Koyama, was present and working at the sushi bar. Nothing spells quality and care in a business like seeing the owner present and working. Such a sight instills confidence in the consumer.
Overall, we had a great Culture Weekend to Japan in Brooklyn! The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens were beautiful, albeit small and Manga packed, but worth a visit nonetheless. And if your looking for great Japanese food in Brooklyn, check out Geido, order the Obama Roll and thank me later!