Spring is here, the blue sky, the warm weather and in Japan where I currently am, the pretty pink cherry blossoms have bloomed. Once you see the pictures you will understand why it is our favourite season. There is something special when you see the blossoms for the first time. There is a sense of warmth that fills your body.
Luckily you can see the blossoms anywhere in Japan. They start blooming in the Southern part of Kyushu sweeping across the country throughout April. People tune into the nightly news to listen for the best time to view the blossoms in their local area.
Originally only aristocracy and feudal lords would participate in the cherry blossom viewing parties otherwise known in Japanese as Hanami. The common people started to take part after the 8th Shogun Tokugawa Yoshimue planted trees along the Sumido River in Tokyo.
Families, friends, company employees all have parties under the cherry blossom trees. In the popular places, people arrive in the early hours of the morning to save a spot for everyone to enjoy the party and enjoy they do. This is the time when they let down their hair, drink and become merry, sometimes drink to oblivion.
Food is usually brought from home and shared amongst the party guests or meat, vegetables, okonomiyaki or yaki soba are grilled on hot plates similar to a BBQ. Portable karaoke machines are sometimes brought so everyone can sing the latest songs or enka traditional Japanese music popular amongst older people.
We are currently in Osaka and will tell you the best places to view them.
Osaka Mint Bureau
This is the most famous place in Osaka for viewing cherry blossoms. The mint has the largest variety of trees with 100 varieties amongst the 300 trees that are for viewing. The blossoms bloom slightly later here because of the late-blooming yae-zakura trees.
This years viewing period is scheduled from April 11th-April 17th. Opening 10am to 9pm. Weekends from 9am.
To see the cherry blossoms it is a ten minute walk from Temmabashi station. Free admission.
Osaka Castle Park
This would be the most common place for people to view the cherry blossoms. Over 4000 trees have been planted in the park. The castle makes a perfect backdrop to the blossoms, making it a great place for photography. They light up Nishinomaru garden.
Free entry except for Nishinomaru Garden.
Nishinomaru garden open from 9.00 to 20.00
200 yen day time.
500 yen light up
illumination from March 29th to April 17th
Expo Park was home to the 1970 World Expo since then it has been turned into a large park with over 5000 trees line the paths and its lawned areas. This used to be near where we lived so we would often visited this great park which also has a traditional Japanese garden, ethnology museum and home to a professional soccer team.
To enter the park costs 250 yen whether it is cherry blossom season or not.
take the monorail and get off at Banpaku Kinen Koen station.
There is also a light up in the evenings from March 29th to April 13th
illumination from 18.00 -21.00
The park is open from 9.30-17.00
Kema Sakuranomiya Park
This is the most picturesque place to view cherry blossoms as the blossoms stretch for several kilometers along the Okawa river. 5000 trees line the promenade making for a beautiful walk or they can be seen from boats that cruise the river. Osaka Castle can also be seen from here.
To view the blossoms take the JR loop line to Sakuranomiya station. Illuminated till 22.00 during blooming periods.
Each year the dates change. These dates are for 2014.
Have you seen the cherry blossoms in Japan?. We would love to hear what you thought of them.