Every year, a pink blanket covering some areas of Japan, often called The Cherry Blossom Festival, is one of the world’s most colourful events. People come to Japan from all directions to see the cherry blossom in bloom. Plan your trip in spring and experience the colourful nature and Japanese traditions.
Cherry Blossom Festival
The Cherry Blossom Festival is also referred to as Hanami (“flower viewing”) in Japan. Hanami is an age-old tradition of welcoming the new harvest and celebrating the season in which the rice is planted. In the Japanese Heian period, the emperor organised feasts and parties in the Kyoto palace under the cherry blossoms. The party was therefore intended for the Japanese upper class. From the Edo period around 1600, the rest of the population also began to celebrate Hanami.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is an outdoor party under the blossom trees. Visitors bring food, beer and sake and have an elaborate picnic with friends or family. Usually, they are entertained with traditional Japanese performances, dance shows or tea ceremonies. Visitors compete for the best spot under the trees and some reserve places as soon as the sun comes up. These celebrations often go on until the early hours, when the moon beautifully lights the blossom.
Don’t forget to get some souvenirs too! During the sakura season in Japan, you will also expect a whole new wake of exciting pink floral products, sweet snacks and even toys, such as nanoblock. Speaking of snacks, here you will find the popular Kit Kats! White chocolate is known for its wild flavours in Japan. Besides the snacks, you will also enjoy products like sakura facial sheets, sakura milk teas, sakura bath bombs and even sakura frappuccino from Starbucks.
Although cherry trees grow all over Japan, some cities and regions are mainly known for their Hanami festivals. Tokyo should not be missing in this. In this vast city, go to Naka Meguro, for example, where the blossom hangs beautifully over the river. Or opt for Ueno Park, which has no fewer than 1200 cherry trees. You can also admire the sakura bloom in the Shinjuku Gyoen park, the Imperial Palace or the Yasukuni temple. The castle town of Hirosaki is another excellent option in Japan to view the blossom. But the best place is probably Yoshino-Yama: a mountain with more than 30,000 cherry trees. The mountain is located in the centre of Nara Prefecture, and many call it the best viewing spot in all of Japan.
Is the Cherry Blossom Festival also on your to-do list? Keep in mind that the flowering period of the cherry trees is concise, and it differs per region when they are in bloom. In the south of Japan, flowering starts around the end of February, but the further north you travel, the later flowering starts. Flowering reaches Hokkaido last, around May. If you want to experience Tokyo’s blossom, it’s best to go in the last week of March to mid-April. But be warned: you never have a guarantee! The weather can be bad, which means that flowering is earlier or later.
If you can be found in Japan during the spring, try to plan your trip so that you can experience this special celebration. It is a unique event where you can admire beautiful nature and get an impression of the unique culture that Japan has to offer. Want to read more about travelling through Japan? On the Internet, you will find practical information and inspiration for your trip through this beautiful country!