As the days are slowly slipping from the cold crispness of winter towards the pleasant freshness of spring, it is also time again for another much-anticipated traditional Japanese event. Hanami, or cherry blossom viewing, is a popular pastime in Japan in spring, and who can deny that sitting under the cherry blossoms with a picnic or wandering around under the beautiful flowers is fun. So this year, why not join in?
Best for picnics
Osakajo koen is a fantastic place to meet friends and hold picnics under the cherry blossoms; it is also a great spot during the hanami season for finding street stalls and street foods that normally are only available at Japanese festivals. Bring your own ground mat , get a space and enjoy the lively atmosphere of Osaka with great views of Osaka Castle and moat. As it is popular during the hanami season, getting a place may be difficult, so I recommend going earlier and having a lunch picnic that extends to sunset. The park is also beautiful and can be explored at any time. There is also a large sports area where, if you like, you can bring a ball and play.
Best for artistic views
Toji temple, one of Kyoto’ s many World Heritage Sites, is a beautiful temple that opens its stunning gardens at night for a light-up event. Every year many places host light-up events, but Toji does it with a bit of a twist. Often there are themed artistic features displayed throughout the gardens. Follow the path through the different buildings and pass the stunning Zen gardens, the lake and into the bamboo. The atmosphere is relaxing and calm and the views this temple has to offer grants you the chance to not only see the beautiful history of Kyoto, but also to enjoy the wonderful nature that is preserved here. This is definitely a fantastic place to admire the cherry blossoms at night.
Best for a skyline view
Kiyomizu Temple, as many of you know, is one of the most famous temples in Japan. Every spring they too have a light up – perhaps the most popular one. Kiyomizu Temple has a fantastic view from its stage that looks out over the grounds, but also over Kyoto. The lit-up cherry blossoms, the beams of light in the air and the night-time skyline of Kyoto all together give a not-to-be-missed night out. There are often other things to do at Kiyomizu Temple, including the love stones where it is believed that if you can walk from one stone to the other with your eyes closed and without assistance, you will soon find love. There is also the Otowa waterfall which is channelled to fall in three different streams. It’s often said that the water has wish-granting properties, and that each one symbolises a different fortune: luck in love, fortune in health and success at work/school.
Best for a pond view
Daigo Temple is a little out of the way and often missed. This temple has a fascinating history and the oldest building in Kyoto is also here. Every spring and autumn they hold special events to commemorate the parties that Toyotomi Hideyoshi (one of the great Feudal Lords in the Warring States Period) used to hold at this temple. In spring there is a re-enactment of his cherry blossom viewing parade, but it is also possible to visit the temple at other times in order to see the beauty of the grounds. The best part of the gardens is the pond. You can walk all the way around it and enjoy the nature and stunning views which is evidence that Hideyoshi would only choose the best for his parties. Because this temple is a little out of the way and not on the usual tourist route, it is a great place to visit to avoid some of the crowds that can usually be found in other places during the spring.
So this year, why not join in?
by Life in Kansai