Konnichiwa, all and sundry! Japan is known for its Sakura or Cherry Blossoms trees due to the enormous number of unique and countrywide festivals held throughout the blooming season. People host picnics and hanami (flower watching) parties as the buds burst forth in parks and streets across the country to relish the momentary beauty of the blossoms and gladly accept the warmer weather. Isn’t that an amazing experience to watch the flowers as they bloom beautifully, to attend amusing festivals with tons of traditional performances, and also to try delicious and flavorful food? Let us add that to your bucket list! Here are some guides you need to know about Cherry Blossom Season.
The symbolism of Sakura or Cherry Blossom tree
It is important to know the culture of the place you are visiting. It is important for you to understand and show respect to their culture. So, what is the symbol or the meaning of Cherry Blossom trees to the people of Japan and why is it known as a national obsession for them?
One of the most well-known images in Japanese culture is that of cherry blossoms. The design can be found in a variety of places, from dreamy landscapes in “ukiyo-e” woodblock prints to delicate designs painted on “byobu” traditional folding screens to decorations on everyday consumer items such as bento lunch boxes, not to mention the high presence in modern art, manga, and anime.
The symbolism of cherry blossoms is one of the reasons for their popularity. They’re believed to resemble clouds since they bloom all at once and linger above the trees like mist. They eventually vanish in a moment, much like clouds. They have come to represent utter worthlessness or the fleeting quality of existence as a result of this. This reflects a lengthy Buddhist idea in Japanese culture known as “mono no aware,” or essentially, “the pathos of things,” which acknowledges both life’s beauty and its mortality. Which is a very deep and delicate meaning. Having the knowledge of the deeper meaning and symbol of Cherry Blossom trees to the Japanese culture makes it more interesting and it is something to reflect on, right? Deep dive into the symbolism of Cherry Blossom trees and other cultural symbols of Japan here.
Location of Cherry Blossom trees in Japan
Where can you specifically find sakura trees in Japan? The “Somei-Yoshino” or Yoshino cherry, a hybrid of two distinct species, is the most frequent cherry blossom in Japan. It’s famed for its almost entirely white petals with a delicate pink hue. It’s commonly planted around rivers or castle moats, creating a shimmering tunnel of delicate colors that mirror off the water. They’re also common in parks and campuses.
Another exquisite variety is the Kawazu-zakura, which may be found in the Kawazu area of the Izu Peninsula’s southern side, just over 2-and-a-half hours by train from Tokyo. These blossoms are a darker pink than Somei-Yoshino and bloom about a month earlier, from late February to early March. The Kawazu-zakura Cherry Blossoms Festival is a beautiful sight that draws over a million visitors each year.
Perfect time to watch the Cherry Blossoms bloom
Here is the most important thing you should know before traveling. Is it the right season to go? The question is, when is the best time to travel to Japan? Of course, the perfect time to visit Japan is when it is Cherry Blossom Season.
Cherry blossoms bloom between the middle of March and the beginning of May. Cherry blossom season in Tokyo is projected to begin around March 21 in 2022. While the exact dates vary from year to year, there are some regions where cherry blossoms bloom even sooner or earlier than in the past years.
The village of Kawazu, located on the Izu Peninsula coast about 3 hours south of Tokyo, is one of them. Kawazu is noted for a special type of cherry tree called Kawazu-zakura, which blooms a month early than regular blossoms. Another location is Atami, about 90 minutes south of Tokyo, where Atami-zakura blossoms alongside a tranquil creek. These, too, bloom a month before the traditional Japanese cherry blossom.
In Japan, cherry blossoms bloom for around a week. If you misspeak bloom, don’t worry because late-blooming cherry blossoms can still be seen in chilly places into April. Also, keep in mind that “peak bloom” does not mean the trees will immediately shed their blossoms; you’ll have roughly a two-week window to enjoy them.
Here is more detailed and official information on the blossom forecast as of February 17, 2022 derived from Japan Meteorological Corporation, based on several criteria, including temperature low points in the autumn and winter, as well as historical data from the area. However, due to the Covid-19 pandemic, several cherry blossom viewing events and festivals were canceled in 2021. In 2022, a similar process may occur because there are still safety regulations and protocols being followed.
- Tokyo Flowering: March 21 / Full bloom: March 29
- Sapporo Flowering: April 28 / Full bloom: May 2
- Sendai Flowering: April 9 / Full bloom: April 13
- Kanazawa Flowering: April 3 / Full bloom: April 9
- Nagoya Flowering: March 23 / Full bloom: April 1
- Kyoto Flowering: March 26 / Full bloom: April 3
- Osaka Flowering: March 26 / Full bloom: April 2
- Hiroshima Flowering: March 23 / Full bloom: April 2
- Fukuoka Flowering: March 18 / Full bloom: March 27
For more information you can visit Japan Meteorogical Corporation’s website for Cherry Blossom forecast updates:
Sensational Cherry Blossom Festivals
Now that you know when and where to watch the cherry blossoms in Japan. You also do not want to miss the different glorious festival in a way to embrace the Japanese cultural traditions. Here are the top 5 exciting cherry blossom festivals in Japan:
1. The Goryokaku Park Cherry Blossom Festival.
It is famously known for its features which light up nearly 1,600 cherry blossom trees. The annual event activities done during this festival are nighttime light-up and also barbecue! There is also an observation deck at the Goryokaku Tower where you can see the beautiful view of Cherry Blossom trees at the Goryokaku Park.
2. Hirosaki Cherry Blossom Festival.
It features nighttime light-up where you can appreciate and adore the cherry blossom trees. The park during the night of the festival will also be filled with lively people, dumpling stands, food kiosks (Travelling isn’t fun without trying the variety of dishes the place offers, right?), and all varieties of visual entertainment. Shamisen performances are being held during the event, too! See the photo below to have a visual perspective of how perfectly splendid the place is at night.
3. Tsuruoka Cherry Blossom Festival.
It is a festival held in Tsuruoka Park near the Tsuruoka Castle Ruins. Japanese paper lanterns, also known as “bonbori” are hung up during the festival to softly shine on the 730 cherry trees, including varieties trees like Yoshino and the weeping cherry tree. It makes the place more festive and lively which makes your experience more memorable. You can also find a place beneath the cherry blossom trees where you can eat and hang out with your friends.
4. Kitakami Tenshochi Cherry Blossom Festival.
This festival is held along the Kitakami River, surrounded by 2km of cherry blossom trees. Throughout Kitakami City during cherry blossom season, there are evening light-ups and folk art performances. If you’re into traditional art, you should bring a camera with you to capture their performances. On the Kitakami River, do not also forget to capture the magnificent display of 300 koinobori, or carp streamers, which you usually see in Anime and Japanese movies.
5. Ueno Cherry Blossom Festival.
Ueno Park is located in the capital city of Japan which is Tokyo. Various activities are provided by the Ueno Music Preservation Society for this occasion, which include the Daikoku-mai and Kotobuki-jishi folk dances. For people who love to buy flowers, a flower market is also open during the event. An Aozora Antique Market is also open during the event. Who doesn’t love flea markets? You can buy seasonal products or souvenirs for your family and friends back home, or even for yourself, as a remembrance of your unforgettable trip to Japan. There are also bonbori lanterns hung up during the festival event.
For more details on Hanami Festivals, you can visit this website.
According to Inside Kyoto (2022), Japan is not yet open to tourists. Even though Japan is not currently accepting tourists due to the pandemic. But who knows? For the travel restriction updates of Japan, you can visit the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan.
Time will heal everything. While waiting for the updates, there is still a lot of time to prepare financially, find a free schedule, or prepare to file a leave from work. Finally, when the time comes that everything is back to normal, you’re ready and so is your pocket. You already know what to do before going, the specific places you should visit, festivals you should be attending, and finally, check this one off your bucket list.
Written by Janine B. Diones