Come spring, and tall trees covered in pink blossoms take over avenues and riverside promenades across Japan. This annual event, known as sakura season (it lasts well into late April in cooler regions), has attracted tourists who want to participate in hanami, the Japanese custom of viewing the flowers.
Not just Japan – many other destinations around the world turn into hotspots. “The National Cherry Blossom Festival in Washington, DC, one of the city’s most popular events that usually takes place in late March or early April, this year’s event is planned for April 16,” says Sandeep Arora, director of A Yatra. Company.
April is the ‘florest’ month in London, as during this period the city’s footpaths and parks are filled with cherry blossoms. The stretch between Lancaster Gate and the Albert Memorial attracts people from all over England for picnics, sports and live music among the flowerbeds. Kew Gardens and Regent’s Park are also popular.
In Scotland’s capital, cherry blossoms can be seen along popular streets including Stafford Street and West King Street. Gossamer white flowers blend well with the blue sky while pink cherries along Colquhoun Street, West Princes Street and Lomond Street provide a delicious contrast. One of the most popular spots remains West Argyle Street, a mile-long avenue lined with plump, pink flowers. In 2021, the UK also launched a campaign called Blossom Watch – their counterpart to Hanami.
The Heerstrasse and Breite Strasse streets in the German city of Bonn are almost magically transformed into a pink sea of flowers every April. The city is home to two types of flowers — the light-pink Japanese flowering cherry (Prunus ‘Amanogawa’) and the bright-pink Japanese clove cherry (Prunus kanzan). So it’s no wonder Bonn is known as the “cherry blossom district” of Germany. The trees were first planted here during the city’s redevelopment in the 1980s (a gift from the Japanese city of Yokohama) and became a highlight in the old town bon.
Vancouver, British Columbia
The city first began planting cherry trees in the 1930s, when it received 500 as a gift from Japan. Today, it boasts more than 1,30,000 of them. With events like Tree Talk and Walk at Fraser River Parkade that offers free guided tours of the cherry trees, and The Big Picnic at David Lam Park that lets you relax under the blossoms — Vancouver sure knows how to make sakura season special. This year’s event season is from April 1 to 23.
Jinhae, South Korea
Visitors to South Korea during the spring should travel to Jinhae, a naval city near Changwon, which is considered one of the densest concentrations of these flowers in the world. The sleepy settlement hosts the annual Jinhae Giharangje Festival in March-April, which also sees cultural performances by the army.
Can autumn be far behind?
Miss cherry blossom season in the spring? Don’t fret and wait for the East Khasi Hills of Meghalaya to come alive with lush autumn flowers, which the Japanese call Jugatsuzakura. The Shillong Cherry Blossom Festival, held in November in the hill state capital, is a celebration of this time and the city’s musical and literary heritage.
Plan ahead for sakura season
To make the most of cherry blossom season, planning your trip well is essential. Refer to the cherry blossom forecast for the year (usually available on the official website).
Plan your trip in advance. Cherry blossoms are equally important to domestic tourists and hotels tend to sell out quickly.
Arrange visas in advance, as this time of year is extremely busy.
Keep your itinerary flexible to increase your chances of seeing cherry blossoms in full bloom in a single location. During your trip, you may want to check the daily forecast so that you can adjust the following day’s travel accordingly.
Inputs by luxury travel consultant Chhavi Chadda