The Beauty of Sakura
The cold winters and hot summers can feel very long. That’s why spring is best season of the year because of its cool temperatures. When springtime hits, trees start growing leaves or flowers. In Japan, the famous Sakura, in English called cherry blossom, grow in the Spring and it is Japan’s most iconic natural symbol.
Sakura sweeps begin to grow in Okinawa in the far south around January/February. they then pass through the middle of Japan in March/April, and then it finishes at the northern, Hokkaido, in May. There are factors that affect the time when the sakura blossoms bloom. If there is cold weather, the flowers will come out late. If it’s an unseasonably mild weather, they will bloom faster. If there is heavy rain, petals drop more quickly.
It’s great to go to Japan during the cherry blossom season because of hanami, the flower-viewing of the cherry blossoms. Japan becomes the most relaxed place to be and public places have a more party-like atmosphere. Typical hanami spots are in city parks, landscape gardens, castle grounds, and along riverbanks. They are mostly done in daytime sun or in the evening. When it’s dusk, lanterns are hung on trees, which makes the canopy a glowing pink.
The history of sakura begins with the tradition of hanami that goes back over many centuries starting from the Nara Period (710 – 794). Hanami in ancient Japan was the, “celebration of feasting, drinking and making merry that is thought to have begun in the Imperial court of Emperor Saga and gradually filtered down through the samurai classes to become a tradition beloved by all echelons of society.” Sakura blossoms were important in ancient Japan because it announced the rice-planting season and was used to bless the year’s harvest. Japanese people believed that sakura trees contain spirits and they made offerings to them with rice wine.
If you are interested in seeing these sakura trees, here are five hanami spots to go if you go to Japan:
Mount Yoshiro, Nara Prefecture -> They have over 300,00 cherry trees and it has been the most famous sakura viewing spot in Japan for hundreds of years.
Shinjuku Gyoen, Tokyo -> Sakura trees last longer here than anywhere else in Japan and it’s in the heart of the most hyper- modern metropolis, packed with high-rising building and bright neon lights.
Himeji Castle, Hyogo Prefecture -> This year, it’s open to the public after a five-year facelift. It’s one of Japan’s largest and most beautiful castles to view cherry blossoms.
Mount Fuji -> One of Japan’s most national icons and it is surrounded by cherry blossoms.
Philosopher’s Path Kyoto -> A stone walkway that follows a canal through the northern part of the city’s Higashiyama district. It is two kilometers and has plenty of restaurants, cafés and shops that are surrounded by cherry blossoms