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Celebrating Japan's cherry tree gift in NYC

Cherry blossoms bloom as a crowd enjoys the

Cherry blossoms bloom as a crowd enjoys the warm weather during the annual Cherry Blossom Festival at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden. Photo Credit: Getty Images

Mark the 100th anniversary of Japan's gift of cherry trees, or sakura, to New York by exploring the city's trove of flowering trees or taking in one of the special events commemorating the friendship between the two nations. Because of the warm spring some trees will be past peak bloom, but there are plenty of ways to celebrate, whether you prefer a tea ceremony, a baseball game or a wacky game show. Said famous Japanese poet Kobayashi Issa: "In the cherry blossom's shade, there is no such thing as a stranger."


WHAT Enjoy 12 hours of workshops (including calligraphy, block printing and language lessons), films, live music, a park-themed lounge with refreshments and even a Japanese-style game show (the winner receives a trip to Japan).

WHEN | WHERE Saturday from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., Japan Society, 333 E. 47th St.

INFO $10 adults, $5 children younger than 12 (certain programs require additional tickets; call for prices and availability). 212-832-1155,



WHAT Begin the day at Sakura Park, adjacent to the northern end of Riverside Park, with a performance commemorating the gift of cherry blossoms; then at nearby Grant's Tomb, Harlem for Japan presents the TOMO Friendship Concert, featuring an eclectic gathering of singers and ensembles. A children's "East Meets West" baseball tournament takes place Sunday at Marcus Garvey Park.

WHEN | WHERE Saturday at 11 a.m., beginning at Sakura Park, 122nd Street and Riverside Drive; Sunday at 1 p.m. at Marcus Garvey Park, 120th Street and Madison Avenue

INFO Free, 212-371-8222,



WHAT From Manhattan, hop a tram (departing from 59th Street at Second Avenue) and travel over the East River to Roosevelt Island for an informative 75-minute guided tour through a collection of almost 70 flowering cherry trees, including a parade of blossoms that line the island's scenic promenade.

WHEN | WHERE April 21 at 11 a.m.; meet at the visitor center kiosk at the Tram Plaza

INFO $10 suggested donation, reservations required. 212-688-4836,



WHAT The Brooklyn Botanical Gardens has the most diverse collection of cherry blossoms anywhere outside of Japan -- more than 40 varieties among their 220 trees. To check the status of blooms, visit the CherryWatch map on their website. The sakura festival also features a tea ceremony, samurai sword demonstrations, a fashion show and more.

WHEN | WHERE April 28-29, 10 a.m.-6 p.m. Brooklyn Botanical Gardens, 900 Washington Ave.

INFO $10 adults, $5 seniors and students, free for children younger than 12, 718-623-7200,



WHAT Last year, more than 30,000 people attended, so expect even more for the centennial. With food trucks, activity tents and a 4-mile run.

WHEN | WHERE May 13 at 10 a.m.; Naumberg Bandshell, Central Park (closest entrance is Fifth Avenue at 72nd Street)

INFO Free; 212-398-7145,


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