Again! Spring comes, and this is the time when the cherry blossoms are blooming everywhere around the world. I have been to and seen beautiful photos of cherry blossoms in Washington DC, Madrid, Seoul, Busan, Hong Kong… But still, the Sakura in Japan remained the most impressive.
First of all, Sakura, together with the Chrysanthemum, is the national flower of the country. Therefore, millions of Sakura are strategically planted everywhere, especially the main sites of the country. Besides, the short blossoming period and the kind of “tragically” romantic Sakura falls tie with the Japanese culture and aesthetics seamlessly.
As a Japanese tradition, “Hanami” is a celebration of spring and festivals are all over the country. However, due to the weather and temperature difference, not all the Sakura are blooming at once. That’s why chasing the full bloom of cherry blossom could be fun and challenging at the same time – usually, the flower starts from the southern part of the country at the end of March (except it’s a little bit earlier in Okinawa in January) and then sweep across the country to Hokkaido until mid-May. Luckily as organized as the Japanese, there are lots of official websites constantly updating the status of cherry blossoms with rather accurate forecasts and real-time photos so that visitors won’t be surprised and disappointed.
A website in English with all the cherry blossoms information – “how-to” guide, ultimate hanami experience, blooming forecasts and places to go.
Different stage and different genre of Sakura has their unique kind of color and beauty. The spirits of “Hanami” is to celebrate spring while people gathered around and had a picnic under the blooming trees, socializing and admire the season in all its glory. More, enjoying the view and beauty of the Sakura with popular tourist attractions such as castles, temples, and national heritages would make your visiting experience more special. Even visitors may have come to Japan for the cherry blossom season before; they always find something new at different sites – admiring the blossoms from a boat on a stream, at a world heritage site, together with the Mount Fuji, or even while they ski.
The Shukkeien is a beautiful Japanese Garden in the city center of Hiroshima, designed based on China’s West Lake in Hangzhou. The word “Shukei” means a miniature of the views and scenery of the famous West Lake in China with ponds, pavilions, bridges and tree arrangements. The garden was built in 1620 and originally a retreat of a landlord in Hiroshima, and later became a national attraction in 1940. The garden we see now is a rebuilt after the atomic bomb in the Second World War – and during the cherry blossom period, the garden would open at night offering visitors a night Sakura viewing experience.
It was the first time that I saw Sakura at night, and it was different to see the blossoms under lights under a dark canopy of sky. The serenity and tranquility of the garden even calmed me more. Back home, as I flip through the photos, the Sakura has illuminated from the complete darkness as if a postcard with special printing effects on the flower.
Website: http://shukkeien.jp/, Night Sakura viewing info (in Japanese)
Open Hours: Until 8:30 pm for the night viewing
Fee: 250 yen
How did I get there: Stop at Shukkeien station by Tram #9 or take a 15-20 minute walk from the Hiroshima JR station, just turn and follow the signs after reaching the Hiroshima Art Museum
Any thoughts, tips or questions?