The blooming of Cherry blossoms (Sakura) in Japan, marks the beginning of a new cycle of four seasons. Happy emotions stirs up in my heart, when I look at the blooming pink and white cherry blossoms under the sunny and blue spring sky. Sakura also symbolizes an old Japanese philosophy of mono no aware meaning nothing lasts forever; our life is precious and fascinating but also transitory. Read along to know more about Sakura and where you can view them at their full bloom.
Blooming time of Sakura depends on the regional climate. In southern prefectures of Japan, blossoms open early in the year while in the northern colder regions it is normally around early May. Also, if the winter before the blossom season is a moderate one, blooming happens early. At Honshu Island flowers usually open around April, in Okinawa as early as in January and in Hokkaido, the kingdom of Queen Elsa, blossom happens a month later than the Honshu Island. Check this year’s forecast of cherry blossoms here.
A variety of cherry trees in Japan bloom only for a few days, however. A week after the first blossoms, full bloom happens. While, a greater amount of the trees produce only beautiful flowers, some of them bear cherries too. In Hokkaido, I have seen Cherry and Japanese plum trees (Ume) blossoming at the same time. Here is an interesting article on how to distinguish between a Cherry and Plum blossom. Cherry flowers and its leaves are widely used to create interesting desserts such as these.
With the arrival of the first bloom, also comes the time for parties across the country. Hanami (Flower Viewing) celebration is a historic tradition here. People visit parks with friends, families, and colleagues to sit under the stunning blossoms and enjoy barbecue and drinks . Plenty of sake also flows around making people drunk, and boy oh boy, things do get a little crazy then. Learn about the etiquettes of drinking in Japan to avoid any embarrassing situations 😆 .
Cherry blossoms spots in Sapporo:
Hundreds of cherry trees line up to create a superb sight at Maruyama Koen. The park, gathers the largest crowd in Sapporo, during Hanami. People turn up early in the morning on weekends with families, friends, colleagues and even pets to grab the best spot for bbq. Make a quick trip to the Hokkaido shrine too while you are here. A visit to Maruyama zoo is also possible, as they are all nearby.
A little far from down town Sapporo, Moerenuma Park is one of the most picturesque and unique parks in Sapporo. You can enjoy a picnic under the shade of dense cherry grove here. Blooms at Moerenuma usually occur a little later than the rest of Sapporo. For art lovers, interesting gigantic sculptures designed by Isamu Noguchi are also around. Entry is free, bikes can be rented for 300 JPY to ride around this huge park.
This park has more than 1000 plum trees and a very countryside feel to it, as the natural terrains are still being maintained. You might even spot Kitsunes (Japanese fox). In the month of May every year, Plum festival at the park is also organised. Just carry a mat, some food and drinks and sit under the shade of beautiful plum blossoms. Don`t forget to enjoy delicious Umeshu (Plum liquor).
Although Hokudai gathers huge crowd in autumn ( best autumn viewing spots in Sapporo), Sakura too can be enjoyed here. The campus gives a pretty opportunity to enjoy the four seasons at one place and it is also a good sightseeing spot. Check out other sightseeing places in Sapporo.
Another great place in Hokkaido is the Matsumae Park in a Matsumae. If you prefer driving, then an awesome road trip to Sakura Namiki Street in Shinhidaka will also be just perfect. This street is considered as one of the top 100 cherry blossoms spots in Japan. For public transport, regular buses are also available from Sapporo ekimae bus stop every two hours. Please check bus timings at the information centre in Sapporo Station North gate, or if you can read Japanese then go here.
With winter in Hokkaido almost getting over now, I am so ready for the breath-taking Sakura and another delightful Spring to arrive. For a picture gallery on Sapporo Cherry blossoms, go here.
What are your favourite spots for Sakura? Any places in Sapporo, that I might have missed? Let me know by commenting below.
Thank you for reading