SINGAPORE - Visitors to the sakura-filled Flower Dome conservatory at Gardens by the Bay this month will be greeted by 10 miniature Japanese ambassadors.
The 60cm-tall kimono-clad speciality dolls, worth thousands of dollars each, are part of a new effort to bring the sights, smells and even tastes of Japan to the Gardens' annual cherry blossom floral display.
Six of the 10 dolls on display belong to speciality doll collector Ethan Ng.
"It is my hope as a doll collector that visitors can take more photos and appreciate the cultural aspects and aesthetic beauty of the dolls," said Mr Ng, 35, a private tutor.
For the first time, a Japanese-themed festival, Sakura Matsuri, will be held alongside the annual sakura display that will be running for the third time at the Gardens.
Said Gardens by the Bay deputy chief executive officer Peggy Chong: "We thought that the experience could be made even more wonderful with an entire Japanese-themed festival."
The festival aims to allow Singaporeans to experience and see sakura flowers, which do not normally bloom in tropical climates.
Sakuras are flowering cherry blossom trees that are usually found in Japan in early April. They symbolise the transition from winter to spring.
The festival will run from Friday (March 16) to April 8.
Entry to the festival is free. However, visitors to the Flower Dome have to pay $12 to $28.
As part of the festival, the Gardens' Supertree Grove will be transformed into an Anime Garden on Saturday and Sunday.
There will be appearances by celebrity Cosplayers, well-known Japanese performers such as May'n, who performs songs from popular anime shows, as well as a parade featuring people dressed in Pikachu mascot outfits from the popular game and show, Pokemon.
To wrap up the festival, there will be a Sakura Japan Fair over the last week of the festival. It will feature an array of Japanese food and workshops on sake appreciation and baking, for example.
"If you really love nature and sakuras, and you want to see rare plants that cannot be seen out there, this is a worthwhile experience," said kindergarten teacher Subhana Aishah, 36, who visited the Flower Dome on Friday.