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Japanese Cherry Blossom Festival
Everything You Need To Know
The land of the rising sun – Japan has always been that Asian island where ancient traditions fuse with modern upbringing. According to the Japanese legends, when Earth was formed to be a mushy creation of the universe, the youngest of gods, Izanagi and Izanagi had descended to its surface to put together the first fourteen drifting islands. We now know these islands as the country of Japan.
All aside, Japan has grown through history to make a name for itself. What started as an iron fist monarchy and eventually growing to one of the superpowers under a military coup, after the disastrous defeat during the World War II, today Japan has grown out to be one of the most technologically advanced yet a timeless cultural country.
Apart from its delectable cuisine, marvellous Shinto shrines and lovable anime, the Hollywood or a photographic depiction of the country is somewhat incomplete with its symbolic pink-hued soft cherry blossom flowers.
Eventually, the Japanese have come to celebrate the season when their country is adorned with fully blossomed cherry blossoms (or Sakura) as a welcome to the spring season and happiness. This festival is known as the Cherry Blossom Festival.
A Brief History Of The Cherry Blossom Festival
The cherry blossoms have always been symbolic of the country’s geography. However, the tradition of the planting the cherry blossom trees started in 1912 when Mayor Yukio Ozaki of Tokyo gifted 3000 cherry trees to Washington D.C. to honour the enduring friendship of the people of USA and Japan. Japanese history also symbolises the cherry trees as effervescent. The flowers bloom all at once and eventually wither as the short season passes depicting the fleeting time; once upon a time, they were a whimsical peace sign for the martyred soldiers while today they have come to represent the rapid change in the climate.
No matter what the reason, the festival blooms the country in its brightest of pink hues welcoming over millions of visitors around the world to witness this paradise. If you are planning a visit to Japan during the festival, then it is ideal for keeping your itinerary focussed as the season sees an enormous crowd flocking to Japan.
Things To Know About The Cherry Blossom Festival
The cherry blossoms last for barely two to three weeks. For an authentic viewing, plan your visit during the months of March to May, depending on the region.
Know the terms
The Japanese weather forecasts the best of cherry blossom viewing places and live telecasts it from Kyushu in the south to Hokkaido in the north. Nevertheless, the real awe lies in the physical viewing of these blossoming flowers. If you are headed for the Cherry Blossom festival, it is always respectful to know the Japanese terms for it. The cherry blossoms are called Sakura, while the cherry blossom viewing is called Hanami.
Pick the earliest time for flower viewing.
The Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan is for families to bond together and the Hanami viewing ages generations back. However, due to this, you would find many families bustling about the popular spots. If you want to get the perfect snaps, then head out a little early in the morning when the air is fresh, and the place is quiet.
Several cultural performances are held around the country to give you an authentic experience. While you can indulge in watching the mesmerising geisha dancers in Kyoto, the most popular ritual involves having a cup of tea under the sakura tree. The Japanese love their tea as much as they love their cherry blossoms. An ode to the Sakura is the cherry blossom flavoured tea that is to be adored. Moreover, where there is a crowd, you will find several food vendors selling local delights that are must-try during the visit to the Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan.
Scenic spots to view Sakura
There are over a thousand idyllic spots for that perfect view of the blossoms; however, nothing compares to the poetic visuals of the flowers against the iconic Japanese backdrops.
Himeji Castle, Hirosaki Castle, Matsumae Park and shores of Kamo River of Kyoto are some of the iconic locations for a timeless hanami.
Nevertheless, if you are looking for nature’s treat then the natural hot springs, snow-capped volcanic mountains and expansive English gardens with lawns are some Japanese secrets you should explore. Five Fuji Lakes, Maruyama Park, Ueno Park, Naka Meguro Canals and Yoshino offer some refreshing natural hotspots for Hanami.
Ask before you click
In Japan, the population is rather disciplined. In such a precious event, you might want to capture the most candid moments of families having a happy time. However, always remember to ask before you click. It isn’t very polite to invade someone’s private moments.
Always carry a warm layer
Although the festival occurs during the spring season, the weather can see a temperature drop when the sun starts setting. It is always ideal to carry warm clothing as the weather can get a little unpredictable in springtime.
Japanese Sake flows throughout the day till the evening. The feeling of a watching the soft petals fall to the ground with Sake in your hand is one Japanese experience you must have. The elderly often crowd about in plum parks to view the blossoms and would welcome you with open arms to join their exuberant celebrations. It is probably the best occasion to learn the Japanese cheers with the clanking of glasses and “kanpai” echoing through the air along with some drinking etiquettes.
In the end, the experience is paradisical; however, you wish to experience it or wherever you want to view it in Japan. In the anime, “5 centimetres per second”, Makoto Shinkai has beautifully drawn out the cherry blossom petals swaying to the ground like snow to tell a heartfelt story of life, loss, grief and solace. Nothing could describe the significance of this festival more than the movie making the festival worth a lifetime of experience.
Before you leave, it might be a good idea to check if you need a VISA to enter Japan, and also about the Travel Insurance
And if you would like to Book your accommodation, We recommend doing so via Booking.com
I am Adyasha, a lost soul in a paper world creating fantasies out of reality. A traveller by passion, a writer by profession, I seek the words which help me view the world in a brighter light. I write to be heard and to make those lost voices heard.