After a successful inaugural edition last year, Gardens by the Bay’s Sakura Matsuri returns for a second round this March, as the Japanese-themed festival sees cherry blossoms come into bloom at the gardens from now till 31st March.
A total of four components will be featured this time around: the cherry blossom floral display, Cultural Programmes, Nippon Street and Anime Garden. At the launch, Minister for National Development and Second Minister for Finance Lawrence Wong and the Ambassador of Japan to Singapore His Excellency Jun Yamazaki broke a sake barrel to symbolise the beginning of Sakura Matsuri. They also enjoyed an energetic performance of Suzume Odori, the traditional Japanese “sparrow dance” that welcomes spring.
Says CEO of Gardens by the Bay Mr Felix Loh:“With beautiful cherry blossoms bursting into flower already, and a wonderful variety of Japanese-themed activities, many of them free, we encourage all to join us at Sakura Matsuri for an unforgettable experience you can only get at Gardens by the Bay.”
Plenty of free events will be available this time around, specially curated in partnership with Japan Creative Centre, the cultural arm of the Embassy of Japan in Singapore. Expect to get up close and personal with Japanese culture, with a showcase of traditional arts such as folk dance, instruments like the koto, shakuhachi and taiko, as well as martial arts such as a kendo demonstration, attending a graceful tea ceremony, or watching exuberant dance performances like the Sendai Suzume Odori – the sparrow dance of spring.
J-Pop/Rock fans are in luck with the return of the Anime Garden. Taking place in the last weekend of March at The Meadow, guests can enjoy free anisong concerts featuring well-known names in the industry like Megumi Nakajima, ReoNa and Ayaka Ohashi, as well as appearances by international celebrity cosplayers such as Olivie & Luffy from Hong Kong and MON from Taiwan, while for the first time ever, local J-pop idol groups Tokimeki JUMP and Natsuiro Party will be making their concert debuts, along with appearances from finalists of the World Cosplay Summit (Singapore).
Of course, what Sakura Matsuri would be complete without a brilliant cherry blossom display? Head to the Flower Dome to catch Japan come to life, with interpretations of iconic elements of the Land of the Rising Sun, nestled among the pretty pink and white hues of cherry blossoms, including a dramatic pathway lined with 15 Tori gates, reminiscent of the famous Tori tunnels of Japan’s shrines; a red bridge inspired by the Hirosaki castle bridge in Aomori, which is often touted as a particularly picturesque spot to view cherry blossoms; and marumado, or traditional circular windows whose aesthetic principle is to perfectly frame a carefully-cultivated scene as one peers out.
The undoubted star of the floral display is the unmissable spectacle of cherry blossoms blooming in the tropics, an unusual sight that visitors will get to see blooming throughout March with the 30 varieties of sakura on display. These varieties include Prunus serrulata ‘Pink Perfection’ with large blooms of 5cm in diameter, the showy Prunus ‘Kanzan’ with each blossom having 20 to 30 petals, and unusual weeping forms of sakura trees. With criminally hot weather, some of the blossoms are even blossoming earlier than ever before, and visitors can even head to Gardens by the Bay’s Facebook page to check on the status of the sakuras to plan their picture perfect visit.
In addition, together with JTB Pte Ltd, Gardens by the Bay returns with Nippon Street, showcasing matsuri-style Japanese activities alongside over 20 food and retail stalls, where guests can take part in traditional games such as fishing coloured balls with a washi paper net; and the chance to try kyudo or Japanese archery, as well as dress up like a samurai warrior of yore. Look out for the latest flavours of Japanese instant noodles, or wind down with a bottle of sake at the sake station.
Get your calendars figured out, break out the yukatas and bring your March into full bloom with the return of Gardens by the Bay’s Sakura Matsuri 2019!
Sakura Matsuri runs till 31st March 2019 at Gardens by the Bay Singapore. For more information, visit their website here