When thinking of spring, blooming flowers are an enduring symbol of the new life blossoming out of the cold. No doubt, one of the most iconic spring flowers are cherry blossoms. With their delicate pink groupings encompassing the entire trees, these flowers have been a celebrated passage into spring for ages.
What is Hanami?
Hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, has been a vital spring ritual in Japan for over a thousand years. The custom is said to have started in the Nara period (around 710) and has evolved into a central piece of Japanese culture over the centuries.
In honor of Hanami many local festivals have sprung up celebrating the coming of spring through cherry blossom viewing internationally- including festivals in Washington, D.C., San Diego, Copenhagen, Vancouver, Jinhae, and Sydney. These local festivals all feature groupings of the cherry trees, local crafts and music, street style cuisine, and plenty of instagram-worthy pictures.
Best Cherry Blossom Festivals
Sakura tunnels (tunnels of cherry blossom trees) are popular in historic sites all around Japan and southeast asia. One of the most notable locations for these gorgeous sites is Izu Highland where a 3km long tunnel of over 1200 trees hosts a tree lighting event.
Another popular location is the Takada Castle where over 1 million visitors view the 4000 blooming trees lit up by thousands of lanterns nightly. Because of its location, blooms in Takada tend to come slightly later than other locations in Japan making it an ideal location if you happen to miss the height of blooms in other cities. Perhaps the most popular blossom viewing spot is the Sewaritei District of Yodogawa Riverside Park located between Osaka and Kyoto. This Sakura Tunnel extends nearly 1.5km with thousands of pink and white blooming trees along parkways filled with festive food and drinks.
Finally, Meguro river where 800 trees line 4km along the river backlit with city lights from food stalls, bars and restaurants casting beautiful pink reflections on the darkened water. Meguro was voted one of the best places to view the cherry blossoms and has been known to attract huge crowds at the height of the blooms.
Cherry blossoms are one of the first trees to bloom fully with celebrations usually happening in early spring. 2020 predictions show the expected blooms will be the third week of march through the second week of April making many of the festivals and events over those weeks (Washington D.C. happening the last week of March, Osaka festivals commencing in early April.)
Hanami and the Coronavirus
This year, because of growing Coronavirus concerns, many overseas travel options to regions such as Japan and Korea have become ill advised. Major events in Tokyo, Hirosaki, and Osaka have been cancelled in order to maintain order and safety of local citizens. However, even among the growing concerns, many events including those in the United States and Europe have released statements indicating the show will go on.
Currently, Japan has experienced a few hundred cases of coronavirus that seem well contained, and the country is not listed as a level 3 travel risk according to the U. S. Department of State. This means travel is not restricted and it is advised to travel with caution, but trips are not required to be cancelled. So, if you have planned a trip to one of these amazing cherry blossom festivals, the coronavirus is not an imminent danger in these areas.
We here at Good Neighbor understand it’s important to take time to travel… and we’re here to help protect you. We recommend finding a travel insurance plan that includes trip cancelation and overseas medical insurance.
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