Thursday, March 8, 2012

Cherry Blossom Festival in Japan

It is the land where modern technology and ancient traditions blend harmoniously, a country with an unrivaled beauty and enchanting charm which attracts millions of tourists to visit Japan. Luckily even you don’t have big budget you can visit the country by checking those sites that offer discount air ticket and air tickets promo. For those who have visited Japan and spent a vacation in the “Land of the Rising Sun”, being captivated by the breathtaking sceneries and the warmth of its people will be an understatement, as everyone who have toured Japan, especially during the festival period, found their experiences in Japan as the most unforgettable one.

One of the biggest events on the Japanese calendar is the “Cherry Blossom Festival” also known locally as “Hanami”. It is an annual tradition with a very deep roots celebrated by every Japanese people, with their families, co-workers and friends. Companies arrange parties for employees, students have it marked on their academic calendar while parents plan ideal settings to introduce their little ones to the wonders of the cherry blossom festival. Visiting Japan during the bloom of the cherry blossom trees is definitely a delightful experience!

“Hanami” which literally means flower viewing is the Japanese traditional custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers, in this case almost always meaning cherry blossoms. The blossom forecast, sakurazensen is announced each year by the weather bureau, and is watched carefully by those planning hanami as the blossoms only last a week or two. In modern-day Japan, hanami mostly consists of having an outdoor party beneath the sakura during daytime or at night. Hanami at night is called yozakura.

From the end of March to early May, sakura bloom all over Japan and around the first of February on the island of Okinawa. Within these months, there are many festive celebrations held in different parts of Japan thus tourists have every chance of finding one wherever they intend to go. In many places, temporary paper lanterns are hung for the purpose of yozakura. On the island of Okinawa, decorative electric lanterns are hung in the trees for evening enjoyment, such as on the trees ascending Mt. Yae, near Motobu Town, or at Nakajin Castle.

Some of the most important celebrations for the cherry blossom festival across Japan are: Yaedake festival in Motobu city (January 7th - February 16th), Matsuyama Shiroyama Koen festival Matsuyama city (April 2nd-4th), Matsue Jozan Koen festival in Matsue (March 27th – April 15th), Tsuyama Kakuzan Koen festival in Tsuyama (beginning of April), Takato Koshi Koen festival in Takato-machi Ina (April), Takada Koen festival in Joetsu town (April 2nd – 18th), Kitakami Tenshochi festival in Kitakami (April 15th – May 5th), Hirosaki Koen festival in Hirosaki (April – May) or Matsumae Koen Park festival in Matsumae (April – May). These are only the places with the biggest celebrations for the cherry blossom festival, having few hundred trees to tens of thousands cherry trees however there are absolutely other smaller festivities in every place where cherry blossom trees grow.

The cherry blossoms are only the main attraction of these events, while Japanese celebrate through various activities. During this festival, every city park in Japan with lots of sakura trees will be jammed with people, and finding a spot to even sit down may be impossible. Among the most beautiful things that every visitor should not miss, are the small representations of traditional Japanese music and theater, the tea ceremony demonstrations or family gatherings to eat under the trees. The celebration does not stop at sunset with most orchards being lit throughout the night projecting a different panoramic beauty amidst the moonlight.

The most popular locations to join in the fun are parks, castles, riverbanks, temples, and shrines. In Tokyo this means places like Ueno Park, Shinjuku Gyoen, the Imperial Palace, or Yasukuni Shrine, along with lots of smaller more local parties as well. If you're still not sure where to go, look for any happy gatherings of Japanese people and you're likely looking at a local hotspot.

At weekends, these places are full of people strolling through the grounds or sitting under their chosen cherry tree. Some group of people mark their pitch by rolling out picnic. In popular places the best spots are usually taken as the sun comes up so better plan ahead.

The coming of the cherry blossoms (sakura) is one of the happiest events in Japan. First and foremost it heralds the coming of spring, which is a delight since winters in Japan are bone-chilling cold. They also have a deeper cultural significance since they fall to the ground and disappear in only a couple of weeks or even sooner if the frequent rains wash them all off the trees, which echoes an ancient cultural belief in the short, transitory nature of youth and life itself. This festival is the perfect occasion to understand a part of the Japanese culture and traditions, which remained unchanged through centuries.

It’s not too late to plan your trip to take part of these exciting activities, start searching for cheap airfare to Tokyo and have a wonderful “hanami” experience!

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