Friday, May 7, 2010

Wearing Kimono at Sakura Matsuri

The first day of May was the first day of the Sakura Matsuri, or cherry blossom festival, at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. I made channeled my inner cosplayer and dressed in kimono. Actually, it was my Japanese language teacher, Emi Kikuchi, who dressed me in the kimono. Sachiyo Ito, my former Okinawan dance teacher, was kind enough to share her dressing room with me while she and her dancers prepared for their performance.

I can't stand my hair in a bun. And my ears stick out. But I love the kimono, the obi (belt), and all of the accessories which I purchased at Kimono House, a store in New York's SoHo neighborhood. Yumiko, the owner of Kimono House, made sure the outfit matched perfectly.

My Japanese language teacher, Kikuchi Sensei, and I pose for a photo near the Cherry Esplanade at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. In addition to teaching Japanese, Kikuchi Sensei is also a certified kimono teacher who specializes in dressing brides in the traditional Japanese wedding style. Through her website,, she offers kimono dressing and photo packages.

Putting on a kimono is fun, but it's time consuming. The obi is twelve feet long – I'm not joking – and there are all kinds of sashes and ties and underthings going on to complete the look.

An enthusiastic crowd packed the tent over the Cherry Esplanade stage and watched a adrenaline-pumping performance by Soh Daikoh, a local taiko drumming troupe. Onstage is Shi Shi Mai, a dance by a lion dog.

The drummers played with boundless energy.

Dancejapan dancers before their performance of an Okinawan folk dance.

Dancejapan onstage

Young dancers Alisa and Felicity with Sachiyo Ito, from whom I used to take Okinawan dance lessons. Ito Sensei and her group, Dancejapan, was there for the 29th consecutive year. (That's basically every year there's been a Sakura Matsuri at Brooklyn Botanic Garden.)

My friend Lisa, who is part of Dancejapan, and I pose with Ito Sensei after their dance performance.

Dancejapan dancers display beautiful kimono.

Other costumes at Sakura Matsuri: I met some nice youngsters who like Japanese culture, especially Japanese fashion.

The glasses make the outfit. The fact that his "Oji Gothic Aristocrat" suit is Carolina blue wasn't lost on me, either.

This charming young lady corrected me by saying she is NOT cosplaying. In fact, she's dressed รก la "Victorian Gothic Lolita."

This old chap didn't seem to mind the 80-degree day.

Parasols are a common accessory with this look.

Here's Geisha Vi, a model, stylist, and . . . well, geisha. I had a great talk with her as she shared her experiences as a performer at comic, gothic, and anime conventions. She's wearing a Hello Kitty necklace.

Maids are a prominent part of Japanese cosplay/anime culture. 

Flashy Goth girls are always in danger of getting run over by golf carts.

Bento for sale under the food tent. They look tasty, but not as tasty as the bento my friend Furukawa-san makes at Fuji Catering.

Matsuri-goers goof off with sushi pillows.

YokoDana Kimono, an online kimono retailer from Delaware, sold kimono fabric.

The guys discuss what they could make with this cloth.

People had the opportunity to try on haori coats and take pictures.

The Cherry Esplanade was minus cherry blossoms because of a few warm days in early April. That didn't seem to bother anyone too much.

Revelers still sat under the trees even without the beloved sakura blooms.

Lots of babies were hanging out at the festival.


Anonymous said...

Very cool Suze!!


shrinecastle said...

Thanks! It was a good day. It's hard to sit down while wearing a kimono, though.

shinji said...

It is so cool!
I create the blog about "Japan cool".
If it is not uncomfortable, please have a look at it.

I try to discuss "Japan Cool" from various kind of perspectives.

shrinecastle said...


Thank you for your comment! I love writing about Japanese topics, and I'm happy that you found this blog.

I saw your blog, I love Tokyo Tower, too. I look forward to reading more of your posts.