Cherry blossoms blooming, sumo’s wrestling, origami hanging, Cosplay peeps discoing – wait, where are we?!
A couple of weeks ago, for a couple of weeks, the Auburn Botanic Gardens in Sydney’s western suburbs became the site of much hanami, which translates as the Japanese art of “flower viewing”. Crowds of people (and some hungry bees!) descended on the Japanese garden, which wraps around a lovely geese-filled lake, and is a mere corner of the nine hectares of the whole Auburn sanctuary.
I’m not sure the resident peacocks knew what hit them, but it was definitely camera flashes. Instagram?! What the ef is Instagram?! They weren’t sure, but plumed their impressive emperor attire just in case. Or they wanted a fight. Who knows. Anywho…
Crowds aside, for the Japanophile (which is probs all of us, yeah?!), it was worth all the potential danger you faced being hit by phone-wielding arms. Bursts of the delicate pink blooms lined the walking paths, and periodically you would find yourself alongside a lady dressed in their finest yukata (summer kimono), clacking in her geta (clogs), which I hadn’t seen since Japan and made me smile and regret not purchasing one in Tokyo.
Speaking of attire – there were also people dressed in elaborate Cosplay outfits, happy to simulate their chosen character for the photos of strangers (like me, for example). Further down the botanical boulevard there was also a Cosplay silent disco, where a group of dressed-up youths bounced and swayed with unabashed delight, letting out communal laughs, lost on anyone without a headset.
Cherry blossoms are not the only flora to be found in bloom at this time of year – my favourite winter and early spring flower is the magnolia. I always think they are the poetry of the flower world. Something about their blush pink poise when everything around them has died or gone to sleep makes my heart swell a little bit, so I was very pleased to see them among the blossoms of Auburn.
Food trucks selling festival favourites like bao buns, fairy floss (?) and yakitori sticks were abundant, but we opted for yakisoba and sushi, because the lines weren’t insane and we wanted to get it out of the way before the sumo wrestling started, which took place three times per day over the weekend. We did make sure, however, that we sampled some matcha (green tea) mochi – a sweet dessert made with red bean filling, which was a little ball of squishy deliciousness.
In the late afternoon, visitors began to weave out under the torii gates toward the exit. This was probably the pretties time to be in the garden, for looking up through the cherry blossoms at the waning, sparkling sun was a special sight. We found a spot outside of the Japanese garden (and not far from a kangaroo enclosure, which made me intrigued about what lie in other parts of the vicinity), to laze by a pond and take some idle time, before heading on our way. Eventually we left via an origami crane display, a native bird aviary, and a cart that sold lemonade in light bulbs.
The Cherry Blossom Festival will return to Auburn Botanic Gardens next August.
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