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Experience the Sakura Festival in Japan

By José Ramírez |

During the springtime, visit Harima Zaka in Tokyo and celebrate the sakura festival in a calm and peaceful way.

Travel in Springtime and Discover the Sakura Festival in Japan

Japanese winter is cold. People eagerly wait for spring and the cherry Blossom or sakura announces the upcoming warmer season. As a tradition, the Japanese celebrate the Sakura festival (Hanami) in Tokyo and other cities. Japan is home to more than 200 different varieties of cherry blossom, the most popular is the “Somei Yoshino”. Its white flowers combined with pink usually last no more than a week.

Every year the Japanese people like to go out and enjoy the beauty of this pink and white exquisite landscape that decorates streets and parks. Actually, they do it in a very joyful and pleasurable way. Food and considerable amounts of alcohol are always part of picnics under the flowering trees. Therefore, it’s not rare to find couples or groups of friends eating bento (Japanese lunch boxes sold in supermarkets) and having a little too many glasses of sake -alcoholic beverage made from rice-. Later in the evening, it is also customary to take a peaceful nap under a cherry blossom ceiling. And if you’re there with your partner or loved one, nothing can be better than being awakened with a kiss.

Where to Celebrate the Sakura Festival in Tokyo?

The Hanami Festival, is the Japanese tradition of observing the beauty of flowers. It takes place in the period where the cherry blossom blooms, this is, from the end of March to the beginning of April. There are lots of wonderful places where you can find the cherry blossom. Three of the most popular in Tokyo are Chidorigafuchi, Ueno Onshi Park and Asukayama Park.

Chidorigafuchi is a moat located northwest of the Imperial Palace. In here the cherry blossom covers the pedestrian path and is reflected in the water of the moat. In addition, at night the trees light up and create a really special atmosphere. On the other hand, Ueno Onshi Park houses more than a thousand cherry trees and is a must for sakura lovers. The Asukayama Park, is a public park in Kita, Tokyo and it has exactly 650 cherry blossom trees.

All of them have hundreds of cherry blossom trees that make up astonishing views. However, they tend to get very crowded since the sakura only last one week or less. Naturally, everyone wants to get a chance at seeing them. Before you miss the chance to see them too, DINKtravelers, your world travel guide, has a very nice recommendation for you.

Harima Zaka or Sakura Zaka

There’s a special place you must visit called Harima Zaka. It’s nicknamed Sakura Zaka, which means cherry blossom slope. This magnificent slope is about 500m long, and all along there are about 150 cherry blossom trees! Altogether, these trees create a fabulous cherry blossom arch that contrasts beautifully with the blue sky above. When the wind blows, pink and tiny petals will embrace you as part of an amazing experience. Make a wish and try to catch a petal before it lands. It is said that if you succeed, your wish will come true.

[Foto de la ldera Sakura Zaka]

This place is nice for those who seek to observe the sakura without so much people around. Since it is far from the center of Tokyo, it is not a favourite touristic destination for travelers, but this makes it a quiet and comfortable place to enjoy the cherry blossom. However it is very popular amoung Japanese people who go on a picnic during the Hanami Festival in Tokyo, so avoid weekends or schedule your visit during office hours.

How to Get to Sakura Zaka Zaka?

The closest subway station to Sakura Zaka is Myogadani in the Marunouchi line. This station leaves you only 5 minutes walking from Sakura Zaka. After you cross the gate you will find a supermarket where they sell very nice bento. Stop by to buy your favorite take-away dishes. Otherwise, enjoy excellent service and tasty Italian cuisine in one of the two restaurants located along the slope. Then, sit underneath a cherry blossom tree and find peace under its delicate shade. Traveling to Japan could not be more perfect!

The Sakura Festival outside of Japan

If it is not possible for you to travel to Japan and see the cherry blossom, you can find it in Washington D.C., United States. It was in 1912 when the mayor of Tokyo, Yukio Ozaki, gave to this city the amount of 3,000 cherry trees. It was a gesture of good faith with which he tried to improve the friendship between both countries and as a way to celebrate the relationship between both nations. Thanks to this act is that the National Cherry Blossom Festival was born in the United States, which is held annually since 1934. Parallel to Japan they celebrate the arrival of spring through the cherry blossom, higlighting aspects of Japanese culture in Washington.

Now your only question will be, what place to choose to enjoy the Hanami Festival in Tokyo and the beginning of spring in Japan. Whether you choose to share this experience individually or together, do not forget to take your camera and photograph the paths decorated with the cherry blossom. Upon your return do not forget to share with us your best photos.