Cherry blossom festival

When walking or travelling around Edinburgh lately you may have noticed the glorious pink and white blossom on the cherry trees. Because of the colourful blossom, the trees are a favourite in parks and gardens alike. We enjoy the blossom during its short flowering period, but in Japan, the event is turned into a festival.

Cherry blossom festival in Japan

Every spring the islands of Japan are covered in swathes of delicate pink as the cherry trees blossom. Steeped in history and tradition, the cherry blossom season is a highlight of the Japanese calendar. The Japanese tradition of the cherry blossom festival (hanami) is a centuries-old celebration. Hanami means “viewing flowers” and the tradition is believed to date back more than 1,000 years to when aristocrats enjoyed looking at the blossoms and wrote poems inspired by them. The arrival of the blossoms also meant that rice planting could begin.

Cherry blossoms normally begin blooming in January in Okinawa and reach their peak in late March to April in the Honshu region. In Hokkaido, cherry blossoms are usually in full bloom in May, and usually appear in Tokyo and Kyoto sometime between March and April, depending upon the climate earlier in the year.

What happens during the festival?

The most popular type of cherry tree is the Sakura, and the blooms only last around two weeks. During this time the Japanese flock to parks where they hold picnics under the trees. The parks can become very busy, and it can become difficult to find the perfect spot. Although the blossom is the festival’s main attraction there are also traditional Japanese performances and street festivals. Artificial lights are used to ensure parties can last well into the night.

Arguably no country celebrates the cherry blossom with the excitement of Japan, but Hanami is also celebrated to a lesser extent in China, Korea, and Taiwan. Smaller celebrations can be enjoyed throughout the U.S. and Europe.

You can read about our previous Spring post

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Photo source: AJ unsplash