Japan is famous for its beautiful cherry blossom, which bursts into delicate colour across the country once a year. The fleeting nature of this floral phenomenon and its deep roots in the country’s history make it an unmissable event for all culture lovers. This article will reveal some of the traditions behind the world famous festivals, as well as the top destinations for you to experience the wonder for yourself. |
Behind the Blossom
Cherry blossoms have a beautiful, if bittersweet, significance in Japan. The delicate flowers last only a couple of weeks and, because of this, have come to represent impermanence. They embody the notion that everything comes to an end.
• The Celebrations If you visit a festival these days, expect family picnics, barbecues and fun. As the sun sets, the festivities amp up a little with plenty of sake and good natured entertainment. These parties are a good opportunity for travellers to get to know some of the locals.
Top Tip: Popular parks become very crowded during these events, so it can be difficult to find a spot to sit or eat. If you are overwhelmed by the crowds, simply head to a smaller, lesser know garden to enjoy the flowers in peace.
Hanami is a Japanese tradition dating back thousands of years. The word literally means ‘viewing the flowers’, but today it is used to refer to people looking at cherry blossoms. The tradition was started by Japanese aristocrats who were inspired to write poetry while viewing cherry blossoms. Hanami is continued by the millions of people who attend the festivals today.
Where to Go
I’ve selected three destinations for travellers who want to experience the whimsical beauty of a cherry blossom festival. Trees start blooming in January in some regions and in May in others. Check the Japan Weather Association’s cherry blossom forecasts to find out when you have the best chance of seeing these beautiful trees at their best.
The Nakameguro Festival is held at the unusual location of a shopping mall. The nearby Meguro River provides one of Tokyo’s best blossom viewing spots.
The Chiyoda Festival in Chidorigafuchi Park is a very popular event, with the trees blossoming in late March or early April. Ideal for a romantic trip, couples can idly row around the moat and gaze at the blush pink petals reflected in the water. The park also has a 700 metre long promenade, which is a good place to watch the world go by.
The Ueno Festival is held at the gorgeous Ueno Onshi Park, home to well over one thousand cherry trees. This is a great place to visit at night as the trees are lit up and the paths lined with pretty lanterns.
Before you pack your bags, make sure you have taken out single trip travel insurance. Even when you are only taking a short break, this is a must – it’s important to cover you and your valuables in case of accident. With your single trip travel insurance taken care of, you can relax and enjoy the beauty of the cherry blossoms in peace.
Patrick Chong is the Managing Director of InsureMore, an award-winning team of specialists in global, annual and single trip travel insurance policies. Besides offering great deals on travel insurance, Patrick also collects and shares the best free travel competitions to help his clients get the most out of their holidays.
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