Saturday, March 17, 2018

Enjoy Hanami at Garden By The Bay's First Sakura Matsuri - 16 March to 8 April 2018


Gardens by the Bay is hosting its first Sakura Matsuri from 16 March to 8 April. Red Dot Diva was invited for a preview of the event, and based on just the sakura show at the Flower Dome, it is a beautiful feast for the eyes!!


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Ms Peggy Chong, Deputy CEO of Gardens by the Bay said that there are few places in the world where you can see different varieties of sakura within a glass dome. “With this being the third year of our ever-popular cherry blossom floral display, we wanted to scale things up. Seeing sakura bloom in the tropics always inspires a sense of wonder, and this year, that one-of-a-kind experience will be enhanced with many Japanese-themed events and activities that we have planned for one and all.

The charming kimono-clad emcee-interpreter then took us through quick Q&As sessions with Ms. Marziah Haji Omar, Senior Assistant Directo for Flower Field Design and Mr Satoshi Kokubun, CEO of Grefica, who happens to own an exuberant head of curly hair.


Ms Marziah mentioned that it took one year to plan for the Sakura Matsuri, as her team sourced for plants, created designs, and transformed ideas into physical form for the show. Included in the entire setting are a rustic tea house, enticing displays for sakura viewing or hanami, and 10 dolls in Japanese costumes placed in miniature landscapes. Due to these miniature landscapes, bonsai Sakura from Kyoto were also sourced for the displays.


Kokubun-san, who is also the Japanese sakura consultant for the show, expressed that his primary job was to ensure that the sakura placed within the Flower Dome, will blossom. He said that everyone said it was "mission impossible" to have the Sakura trees flower in tropical Red Dot Island, but this was made possible by the hard work of the team.

There are 23 different varieties of sakura in the Flower Dome, and to have them blossom together is a miracle by itself. The weeping cherry blossom or shidare zakura - those trees with graceful arches that one see typically in romantic interludes - were sourced from Kyoto , and as for the Kohigan variety, which bears smaller flowers but have numerous blooms on long branches, Kokubun-san went up into the mountains together with his team to handpick these trees.

Kokubun-san's passion for the sakura trees was evident as he described how the sakura flower may look delicate, but actually embues strength as it is typically awakens during the coldest period of winter. He said he hopes that the visitors viewing the sakura "will feel the strength as well as the tenderness of the sakura flower". Red Dot Diva thought that was one of the loveliest, most insightful thing she heard that day, and that thought remained with her as she later wandered around to admire the flowers.

As part of the festivities, the Japanese Association Singapore's Minyo Club performed a special cultural dance to welcome the guests and the Spring season.




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Popular anisong artist May'n, who is well-known as being the singing voice for Sheryl Nome of "Macrosse Frontier" anime series, came on stage. Before she performed a song, she commented that she wore a costume with an obi for the occasion, and that back in Japan, the cherry blossoms have yet to flower, so she was most happy to see the many different varieties bloom in Red Dot Island. Such a sight was a first for her.




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May'n and another anisong artistes, Mashio Ayano, Luna Haruna amd GARNiDELiA will be performing at the Supertree Grove tomorrow from 7PM to 9PM. So don't miss them, if you want to hear them sing your favourite tunes! The Supertree Grove is transformed into Anime Garden this weekend, and you can also get to meet Pikachu! Entrance to the Supertree Grove is Free. (More information about tomorrow's programme here.)

After the performances, it's back to business - which is, the FOOD! What is a party without nom noms, right?

During the Sakura Matsumi, there will be a Sakura Japan Fair organised in partnership with JTB Pte Ltd. The fair will consist of food and beverage stalls, a number of workshops for baking, sake appreciation, bento and kokedama, as well as various Japanese cultural performances.

Samurice and Japan Rail Cafe are two of the restaurants participating in the Sakura Japan Fair and Red Dot Diva had a taste of their offerings.

The first thing that caught her eye was the sakura flavoured, heart-shape designed dumpling or dango. So kawaii! There were also matcha versions.


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Evil Twin _mriel had a go at their salmon ikura don, which had a lovely presentation. However, it was a little too salty for her liking.


Red Dot Diva tried the Italian yakisoba (a dish famous in the Niigata Prefecture) with chicken bolognese sauce by Japan Rail Cafe. It had the right touch of "Western-Japanese" food, and was rich and flavourful. The refreshing sakura-flavoured sparkling drink helped to quench her thirst.

To top it off, Japan Rail Cafe also offered a few types of sorbets, like yuzu and sakura. Red Dot Diva thought the sakura flavoured one was just right - milky enough and not too sweet, not too tart.

With our tummies filled, it was now time to work out some calories - hanami time!


Most of the sakura trees along the pathways were flourishing, and many displayed swaths of small white and pinkish flowers. A few varieties were just budding. Some of these trees will flower in the later part of the Sakura Matsuri, so if you head to the Flower Dome again toward the end of the festival, you will get to see different kinds of flowers.

Red Dot Diva could not get over how pretty the flowers were. There were those with multiple petals that came in clusters, and tiny delicate ones that came in the shyest shade of blush. For those who love selfies or wefies, there are a few scenic backdrops for you to take snap lovely mementos of your time spent at the festival.


Around the tea-house are miniature dioramas evocative of traditional Japanese landscapes, with resin collectible resin dolls in beautiful costumes. The one for a wedding couple standing against a path of bright red torii was particularly striking!


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Red Dot Diva never imagined she would be able to enjoy a hanami without visiting Japan, and one where she could enjoy so many types of varieties in bloom at the same time! Even though the hanami is not out in a natural setting, experiencing it at Gardens by the Bay's sakura flower show is really the next best thing. It was quite an unforgettable experience to be amongst the flowers, taking in the elegant Japanese settings, and imagining you were part of a movie scene, like Makoto Shinkai's "5 Centimetres Per Second".

If you love all things Japan or are an anime fan, this festival is not to be missed!

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Tip: the AC in Flower Dome has been tuned up higher than usual, most probably for the benefit of the sakura trees. So, if you are prone to feeling chilly, bring along a sweater or light jacket.

For more information, click this link for the schedule and programmes of Garden by the Bay's Sakura Matsumi!


Thanks to my Evil Twin @_mriel who helped take photos and video clips!



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