The Beauty of Cherry Blossom in Japan
Cherry blossom time in Japan is magical, as nature presents its ultimate floral show. Not only do trees offer such a variety of materials for our crafts. but they can also be beautiful beyond words.
The flowering of cherry blossom trees, known as sakura in Japanese, has been celebrated for over a thousand years throughout the country’s poetry, literature and art.
Where and when the trees blossom
So when does this glorious flower show start? To answer this question we must look at the geography of the country.
Japan is a string of islands, running for around 1000 miles, from Okinawa (flowering January ) in the semi tropical South, to the island of Hokkaido (Early May) in the North.
Other factors come into play like the prevailing Spring weather conditions and the variety of sakura, as there are many different species. (See below)
If you are just planning to visit the major cities then in Tokyo, the Ueno Park and Chidorigafuchi are fantastic. In Kyoto, Maruyama Park and the Philosopher’s Path are lovely. The Osaka Castle Park is a great spot in Osaka.
The Japanese met office has a dedicated unit which predicts the advance of cherry blossom (sakura zensen) throughout Japan.
As a guide in 2023 they predicted the breaking of the first buds in Tokyo as March 23rd, with the best display being between March 30th and April 7th.
Japanese Flower Festivals
Hanani, which means ‘flower viewing’, is a huge national festival. Extended families gather below the blossom to enjoy barbecues and picnics with live music. craft and food stalls enhancing the joyful ambience.
In the evening the trees are transformed into a magical fairyland, known as yozakura, as the blossom is lit with thousand of lanterns entwined in the branches of the sakura.
The most famous destination is Yoshino on Kansai, where over 30,000 sakura trees cover the Kii Mountains.
Other Blossom Festivals
Plum Blossom, or Ume in Japanese, is one of the first signs that Spring has arrived. The mountains on Honshu are covered with candy floss blooms.
The Mito Ume Festival is the highlight of the plum blossom season with the Kairakuen Gardens being a wonderful showcase for the blooms. A bullet train takes just 80 minutes to reach Mito from the centre of Tokyo.
If you want to travel to Japan in late Spring then the magnificent tunnels of wisteria rival the displays of ume and sakura.
The Great Wisteria Festival is held in the Ashikaga Flower Park from the middle of April until late May. It is only 90 minutes from Tokyo by train.
Ways To Enjoy Cherry Blossom Year Round
There are several ways you can capture the fragrance of cherry blossom.
Make A Cherry Blossom Potpourri
No need to go to Japan to savour the scent of cherry blossom. Here is a simple recipe to make a traditional potpourri…..