Monday, February 27, 2017

Experience the charm of Japan’s Spring

Spring is when Japan's famous trees burst forth into blossom, beginning with plum trees in March and continuing to May, when the last cherry blossoms drift to the ground in northern Japan. Visit Japan this spring to admire the cherry blossoms (sakura) and enjoy a traditional ‘hanami’ picnic party under the blooming trees. 

The sight of beautiful pink cherry blossoms as they blanket the country in soft, colourful splendour is truly magical. In 2017, the sakura are expected to start blooming around 26 March in Tokyo, around 29 March in Kyoto and around 2 May in Hokkaido. 

The traditional custom of hanami is to visit mountains and parks with cherry blossoms and hold sake-drinking parties beneath the cherry trees in full blossom.
Here are some great places for cherry blossom viewing.

Shinjuku Gyoen National Park & Ueno Park, Tokyo

Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden is the location of the samurai residence of the Naito family. It has been famous for its cherry trees since the Meiji Era (1868-1912), and today is one of the most popular spots in Tokyo to enjoy the spring blooms.

Ueno Park is one of Japan's most crowded and popular cherry blossom spots, featuring more than 1,000 trees along the street leading towards the National Museum and around Shinobazu Pond. Trees are lit up in the evenings. 

The rows of cherry trees, Somei-yoshino and mountain cherry trees, bloom magnificently in spring, making the park very popular for holding parties under a canopy of beautiful flowers.
Flowering season: Late March to late April

Maruyama Park & the Philosopher’s Path, Kyoto

Maruyama Park is the oldest park in Kyoto and is renowned for its huge illuminated weeping cherry trees, best viewed at night. During cherry blossom season, as trees on the mountainside start to blossom while the park's trees fade to green.

Also explore the Philosopher's Path which is a walking track from Ginkaku-ji Temple to Wakaoji-jinja Shrine, to see a vista of cherry blossoms on both sides of the river path from Lake Biwa-ko. The cherry blossom petals floating on the water add to what is already a beautiful and atmospheric walk between the historic monuments such as Ginkaku-ji Temple, Honen-in Shrine, and Eikan-do Temple.
In Arashiyama, the cherry blossoms flower profusely all over the area from Togetsu-kyo Bridge to Arashiyama-Nakanoshima Park, the bank of the O-i-gawa River, and Kameyama Park behind Tenryu-ji Temple. The weeping cherry trees in Tenryu-ji Temple are also splendid.
Flowering season: Late March to late April 

Nara Park, Nara

Nara Park is a historical park surrounding Todai-ji Temple, Kofuku-ji Temple and Shoso-in Repository. Constructed in the Tempyo Period (710-784), it spreads over a vast area of a lush and green landscape. Herds of deer are renowned there as the holy messengers of Kasuga-taisha Shrine.

The park has about 1,700 cherry trees of various kinds and offers a number of scenic spots, such as Sagi Pond, the foot of Mt. Wakakusa, the remains of To-do Tower, the Kofuku-ji Temple area, Ara Pond, Kasugano-enchi, and the Todai-ji Temple area.
Flowering season: Late March to late April 

Japan Mint, Osaka 

When the cherry trees bloom around mid-April, the Japan Mint in Osaka opens a passage of 560 meters long along the old Yodo River, from South Gate to North Gate to the general public for one week. 

In the Mint, there are about 120 different varieties of the total 370 extant varieties of cherry trees, such as Kanzan, Fugenzo, Shogetsu, Benitemari, Shibayama, Kizakura, and Yokihi.
Flowering season: Mid to late April  

Goryokaku Fort Park, Hakodate City, Hokkaido

Hokkaido is where plum and cherry trees blossom at the same time. Goryokaku was a western-style fort built by the Tokugawa shogunate (1857-66) in the harbour city of Hakodate. 

The star-shaped ruins of the fort are now a park full of cherry blossom trees.
Flowering season: Late April to early May

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