Hi everyone, after the last posts that have been quite serious, I wanted to share something with you that is an integral part of Japanese culture: the cherry blossom viewing. Despite Covid-19 and all the chaos surrounding it, the blooming of the cherry blossoms took place in early April and we took long walks through the nature and took many beautiful pictures! Even though we couldn’t get the full experience of hanami, we still had time to admire the view for ourselves and discover the beauty of the cherry trees.
The Japanese term hanami means “viewing of flowers” and describes the whole event surrounding the cherry blossom, the unofficially national flower of Japan. It is very important in Japanese culture as it has been celebrated for centuries and indicates the arrival of spring. The seasonal spectacle is celebrated by the hanami events: people meet and gather under the cherry trees to have long picnics, there are lots of outdoor festivities and you can take long walks to take as many pictures as possible! It’s the first time after the winter when people come together outside to celebrate the beginning of spring.
Everyone around the world has heard about the beauty of Japanese cherry blossom season and I am sure, most of you have probably seen various images of big cherry trees with its pink flowers. But the reality is even nicer! We never noticed how many cherry trees are planted in Kanazawa and were surprised when the full bloom had started: the cherry blossom was everywhere! Due to the virus situation public gatherings and watch parties, where you would meet with a group of friends to sit under the trees were all canceled and people were encouraged to stay away from crowds. Usually, there would have been lots of tourists and local people enjoying the view, the festivities and the parties. This year, it was very quiet and we could enjoy a “private” viewing of the flowers.
Impressions of our cherry blossom tours
We went out to see the cherry blossom several times and tried to avoid the very popular spots like Kenrokuen or Kanazawa Castle Park since we didn’t want to mingle with too many people. Therefore, we chose some spots that are more quiet and only known by people who live in the neighborhood.
One of them is the Utatsuyama Kemin Park, a big park in the hillside of Utatsuyama and conveniently located on top of the hill behind our house! It takes us 15 minutes to get there by foot. From the top of the park, you have a great view of the mountain side (on good days you can even see the peak of Mt. Hakusan) and of the city including the sea of Japan. There are also lots of cherry trees planted along the park and viewing them in full bloom was really great. A perfect start for our first sakura season.
We also went on a long bike tour along the two rivers of Kanazawa, Saigawa and Asanogawa. There are so many trees planted alongside the water and you have a spectacular view of the cherry blossom trees and the mountain side. On clear days, you are can see the high peaks of the Toyama mountain range from there, which looks stunning, especially when they are still covered in snow!
The beautiful mountain view from Saigawa river
As we are really lucky, the Asano river is close to our apartment and we had some walks alongside the river and around our neighborhood where you can also spot a lot of cherry trees. Thankfully, the weather was nice enough to be outside all day long (no rain!) and we tried to enjoy as best as we could.
The flowers were so beautiful, I couldn’t stop taking pictures of the scenery. The atmosphere was different every day: we had sunny weather and gloomy days with dark clouds. The cherry blossoms were perfect in any kind of light. I am so thankful that we could go out and enjoy the nature. Even though it was sad that we couldn’t meet any friends for doing it together. Hopefully there will be other possibilities in the future. I hope you can enjoy the pictures.
If you want to see them in real life, in case next year international travel is possible again, I recommend you to try the beginning of April for your travel time. Blossoming might start in March already, but only in the warmer areas of Japan while in colder areas, the blossoming will be some weeks later. Therefore, at the beginning of April your chances to see a lot of different areas of Japan in full bloom might be biggest.
For more pictures, follow us on Instagram and Facebook! We will try to post updates regarding our situation here on a regular basis. So far, due to the situation, I cannot provide more adventurous content about trips or culture. But I will still try to inform you about some interesting aspects of Japanese life as well as Expat life in time of crisis. In the meantime, stay healthy, stay at home and take care!