The vibrant month of March is about to take its egress from this year. Another month has gone in passing, right beneath our busy noses and unaware eyes. And yes, it does seem short. But for the people from the Land of the Rising Sun, it is just the right time to rise from the cold past of the winter season and witness the beauty of nature starting from their century-old tradition called Hanami (花見).
It is usually at this time of late March to early April that the fragile pink and white Sakura (桜の花, cherry blossom) starts to bloom. The pattern of first bloom to full bloom starts from the south at Okinawa going northward to Hokkaido. During this point, families and friends gather around the cherry blossom trees in parks and notable Sakura-viewing spots in the different regions in Japan.
If you are traveling to Japan, here are the places where you can enjoy the Hanami festival:
- Yoshino, Kansai
One of Japan’s top destination for Hanami is Yoshino. For few weeks in early to mid-April, thousands of cherry trees blossom forming a floral carpet. It is definitely a sight worth seeing for both locals and foreign travelers. This sleepy and reserved village blossoms into a ball of happiness as the Sakura trees open in beautiful hues of white and pink.
It is a site that used to be the last slate of defense of the Tokugawa shogunate. Now, Ueno Hill is a famous site in Tokyo where people gather to observe Hanami.
Located in the northwest region of Tokyo is one of the city’s top Hanami spot called Shinjuku-gyoen. Shinjuku’s Sakura trees sprawl over its 144-acre land area, bringing it to the list of the largest parks in Tokyo.
The former seat of Japan’s Imperial Family; the Imperial Palace Park of Kyoto is a go-to place for cherry blossom viewing. The garden is planted with a large variety of flowering trees. Its open field makes it perfect for picnics, strolls and most especially, Hanami. The park is most beautiful in shape during the cherry blossom season when the inner shrine of the Palace grounds is open to the public.
Hokkaido is a special province in Japan, where plum and cherry trees blossom at the same time. Goryokaku Park was built in a western-style fort during the Tokugawa shogunate in 1857 to 1866 located in the harbor city of Hakodate. The fort is one of the largest ever constructed in Japan. The star-shaped ruins of the fort are embellished by countless cherry blossom trees.