Looking shy, a boy handed me a letter right before we parted ways to go home. I carefully opened the envelope, and there it was, a card with a picture of beautiful cherry blossoms trees. In it, he wrote, “I like you so much. You’re as lovely as cherry blossoms.”
That was 6th grade. I was not a very dainty girl, as I still am not. Yet when I look back at that day, it transforms me to a very romantic version of my childhood in Tokyo.
I dare say cherry blossoms hold a very special place in every Japanese heart. I haven’t met one single person from Japan who is not touched by the flower. I think the magic to our hearts is its modesty and fragility. We enjoy watching it shed its petals like beautiful rain as much as seeing it come into a full blossom. It’s about renewal. Rebirth. Cycle of life.
It’s been a long time since I got to witness my national flower with fellow admirers in Japan. My hubs and I were planning on going there this year to catch the blossoms, but as usual, life got in the way. So we decided to go to D.C., which I have been and found it absolutely gorgeous. But when I did the calculation, since we can’t magically fly with our wings and sleep under the trees, it was way over our budget with all the international trips coming up. So, we decided to venture south, to Brooklyn!
…now this was what “welcomed” us. I mean, how can you call it “Cherry Blossom Festival,” without cherry blossoms? It’s like having a birthday party without a birthday girl. OK, I exaggerated. There was about 2 trees in blossom. We saw more people in costumes than what we went to see there.
We were very disappointed and hungry. So we head to the tent. Now, I’ve been to this festival twice before and the last time I was there was 6 years ago. And I was kind of surprised to find out nothing seemed to have changed. These bento boxes were $15 each. I understand the concept of overcharging people when you can at events, but this, was border-line offensive. I never understood why authentic Japanese restaurants or Bento makers don’t get involved and serve real food there. Even non-Asian food. Something decent. Aren’t there many in this great city? They could have all sorts of booths. Isn’t this festival a great opportunity for them to promote? Maybe there is some kind of bureaucracy. Although my hubs is the one who paid up for both of us, I haven’t felt this ripped off in a long time. I heard the same complaints in Japanese as I walked back through the tent.
I got slightly sentimental and wanted to replicate my childhood memory of celebrating the cherry blossoms with others. And I failed miserably. This festival is definitely not for someone who craves authentic Japanese culture, like myself after living in this country for nearly 2 decades. Ironically, I used to enjoy this when I was younger. Today, it was more stressful than enjoyable with a mob of people with smart phones. I feel like I spent the equal amount of time waiting on the bathroom line. I should remember not to visit the Sakura Matsuri there. Instead from now on, I should gather a group of friends on a quiet weekend after I make sure tree are in full blossom and visit.
Brooklyn Botanic Garden
150 Eastern Parkway
990 Washington Avenue
Brooklyn, NY 11225