Japan is a country with a culture quite unlike the culture in the UK, offering a hotchpotch of culture and high technology. Geishas and tea ceremonies combined with high-speed trains and dazzling, colourful buildings.
The nature in Japan is unrivalled, and when the cherry blossom is in full bloom, it’s breathtaking! The cherry blossom bathes Japan in beautiful shades of pink, and it’s hard not to fall in love with the country.
The cherry blossom, known as Sakura, is one of Japan’s annual highlights.
The Japanese and tourists flock to see the beautiful cherry trees which are in full bloom in parks all over the 3,000-km-long country.
The whole of Japan is in a state of exalted delight, and “Hanami”, the celebration of the cherry blossom, with picnics under the picturesque cherry trees, is nothing short of a public festival.
The cherry blossom is a national treasure, and the country is extremely proud of Sakura.
The cherry trees are of special importance to the Japanese.
One of the basic ideas of Buddhism, which some 90 million Japanese observe, is that life is transitory. And the cherry blossom is a symbol of this. The blossoming is a time to reflect on the beauty of nature and life in general.
However, the cherry blossom also has another meaning. It is a symbol of a new beginning, as both the school year and the financial year begin on 1 April.
In addition to the religious and educational significance, the cherry blossom also has a commercial significance.
The supermarkets in Japan decorate the shops with plastic versions of the beautiful cherry blossom. In many ways, it is reminiscent of the Christmas decoration of shops in the UK.
Patience is a virtue if you wish to experience the breathtaking cherry blossom. It is extremely difficult to predict when the trees will blossom as it depends on the weather.
Japanese meteorologists have been monitoring the blossoming since 1951. But like the country itself, modern-day forecasts are extremely high-tech. Mathematical calculations are even part of the equation when calculating exactly when the trees will blossom.
But there are general points of reference if you want to plan your trip in good time, although there is no guarantee that the trees will actually blossom when they “normally” do.
Due to the size of the country, the trees blossom at different times. The first blossom usually appears in Okinawa in January. Sakura generally reaches Kyoto and Tokyo in late March or early April.
If you would like to keep an eye on the cherry blossom forecasts, visit the website www.jnto.go.jp/sakura/.
You can experience the Japanese cherry trees blossom from north to south.
Below are some of the most wonderful places you can experience the blossom.
In the town of Kanazawa, north-east of the capital, is one of the most beautiful gardens in all of Japan.
The garden, which is called Kenroku-en, features a geisha district and a samurai district. Compared to other attractions, the garden is visited by relatively few tourists, allowing for a true Japanese cherry blossom experience.
Ueno Park in Tokyo is a sublime place to experience the cherry blossom.
More than 1,000 trees adorn the central pathway of the park. In addition to the park’s beautiful flowers, several thousand lanterns light up the park. The Tokyo park is an extremely popular Hanami destination, so you should get there early to be sure of getting a seat under the cherry trees.
Cherry trees line the banks on both sides of the Kamogawa River. The former capital is a popular destination when the trees blossom.
The city’s 1,600+ temples make the location a beautiful place to experience the cherry tree phenomenon. One of the most popular and unique places to see the cherry trees in the city is an old Geisha house in the Gion district. You can also go for a stroll along the Philosopher’s Walk, which runs along a canal where several hundred cherry trees are planted.
The two parks, Kema Sakuranomiya and the Castle Park, are superb places to experience one of the highlights of the year – the cherry blossom.
Some 5,000 cherry trees line the Okawa river in Kema Sakuranomiya. Why not experience the pink cherry clouds by boat?
In the large grounds surrounding Osaka Castle, more than 4,000 cherry trees embellish the park. It’s a beautiful sight when the castle is enveloped in pink flowers.
Most people probably associate Hiroshima with the atomic bombing in World War II.
However, in Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park, you can also experience the beautiful blossoming every year. More than 300 cherry trees have been planted in the park, standing in stark contrast to the park’s war memorials.
In Hijiyama Park, which affords views of the city, some 1,300 cherry trees stand ready to adorn the city. It is a popular place to celebrate “Hanami”.
The first cherry blossom appears on the island of Okinawa, located south-west of Tokyo.
One of the most scenic places to experience Sakura is at the ruins of Nakijin Castle, where cherry blossoms and lanterns form a tunnel.
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