Every year, Japan celebrates Hanami (cherry blossom viewing). This century old practice of gathering and merry making with friends, families and couples under a Sakura tree is said to have dated back during the Nara period (710 – 794). It is a tradition that up to the present date is still being practiced. The Hanami season signals the coming of spring in Japan. Cherry blossoms start to bloom in January and go on until the end of May, depending on the location. In the southern part of Japan, cherry blossoms bloom as early as January while other cities such as Tokyo, Kyoto, and Osaka normally bloom in April. Hokkaido, which is in the northern part of Japan starts blooming in May. The Sakura flowers have a life span of 10 – 15 days, therefore people would go to any lengths to witness this remarkable event. Japanese symbolize the blooming of Sakura flower as a dawn of new hope and life. Some said it symbolizes life, even though life is short, yet it is undeniably beautiful. There are plenty of locations in Japan where you can experience Hanami. We have listed some of the popular locations below.
As early as January, cherry blossoms begin to spread its beauty into the place. The cherry blossoms in Okinawa are the Kanhizakura, characterized by having a deeper shade of pink color and flowers tend to grow in a downward position, making it look like they were looking down over the spectators who anticipated their blooms each year. The places considered as popular viewing locations in Okinawa are Yogi Park, especially during Naha Sakura Festival held every mid February. The highlight of the festival is the riverside walkway which is lined with Sakura trees. Another location is Mount Yae in Western Motobu Peninsula. More than 7,000 cherry trees can be found in the area. Lastly, the most adored viewing spot is Nago Central Park. There are about 20,000 cherry blossom trees in the park.
Kyushu is one of the largest islands in Japan and guess what? The place is also listed as one of the top places that has an excellent cherry blossom season during late March and early April of each year. One of the sites you ought to visit is the Kumamoto Castle. The castle is lined up with cherry blossoms on its castle walls and each Hanami season, the castle is filled with crowds flocking together to witness each Sakura flower blooms and carry them away to dreamland. If you can’t get enough with that, proceed to Omura Park. The park has the Omura Zakura type cherry blossoms that are described as a rose like chrysanthemum that has an abundant pair of petals. People gather around the place to see upfront just how lovely this unique flower looks like.
Almost every corner in Kyoto speaks with rich culture, heritage and history. It’s no surprise locals and tourists target Kyoto as their top destination in viewing the blooming of the Sakura tree. Simply the view of the cherry blossoms is indeed breathtaking and is willing to whisk everyone away to feelings of happiness, beauty and contentment. The Maruyama Park offers you the best location to hold picnics under a cherry blossom tree and just enjoy the company of each other while being showered by pink petals each time the wind blows. You can also see the oldest cherry blossom tree in the center of the park. Another location you shouldn’t miss in Kyoto is the Philosopher’s Path. Prepare those walking shoes as this location would require you to experience the beauty of Hanami on foot. Take a 2 kilometer stroll among the cherry blossoms while pausing from time to time to enjoy the sight between Ginkakuji Temple and Nanzenji Temple. The sight becomes more magical when the Sakura trees begin to bloom from the stretch of the canal in the area. Sakura blooms every early April to mid April in Kyoto and every Hanami is a season for many festivals in Kyoto.
It may seem a surprise to you, when Tokyo is listed as one of the top places to view cherry blossoms. Tokyo may be depicted as a bustling city filled with skyscrapers and everything modern, but if you look closely into the city, you’ll find there’s so much more that meets the eye. Lurking around the corners are the best seats in the house to view Sakura flowers during the season. Ueno Park is the most popular of the places there. Boasting with over a thousand cherry blossom trees lined up along the pathway, creating a picturesque tunnel of cherry blossom flowers. Due to being the most popular locations, Ueno Park could be crowded most of the time. It wasn’t that bad at all since the season signifies merry making and being happy around people who share the same feeling. If you are a person who loves peace and quiet, then Yoyogi Park is suitable for you. Although the cherry blossom trees are not as many compared to Ueno Park, the wide lawn shall give you enough space to feel a bit of privacy among other park goers. The cherry blossoms in this park have a wide variety and type, so the park’s hanami season can last almost all season.
Among the list above, Hokkaido is the last place in Japan to have their Sakura trees bloom. Full bloom of this magnificent flower starts from early May each year. When you are trying to catch a glimpse of the cherry blossoms in Hokkaido, make sure to pay a visit to Matsumae-jo, the only castle in Hokkaido. The park grounds near the castle are surrounded by over 10,000 Sakura trees of different kinds. The park is also locally known as Little Kyoto and is known to have more than 200 kinds of cherry trees. Hakodate also has its share of the best places to view the blooming of Sakura trees. Opened as a public park in 1910, you can see over 1,600 Yoshino cherry blossom trees here. Let’s include Aobagaoka Park in the list. There are about a thousand cherry blossom trees planted here including the Someiyoshino cherry tree and Aoba Shidare which is considered to be the only one in the entire world.
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