The weather is getting warmer here in Aomori, and the cherry blossoms are blooming! These flowers are known all over the world as a symbol of Japan, but for the Japanese they also symbolize the coming of spring.
In Aomori, one of the best places to see cherry blossoms is in Gappo Park.
Every year there is a Spring Festival in the park, mostly centered on the ever-popular ‘hanami’ (cherry blossom-viewing) parties. Hanami is an integral part of Japanese culture, and each year crowds of people flock to parks such as this one for picnics and fun under the dappled sunlight coming through the blossoms. Many people bring musical instruments or board games. No need to worry if you’re no good at cooking; during the Spring Festival Gappo Park has plenty of food stalls where you can buy a variety of delicious foods.
We went to check out the preparations for the festival, and while some of the blossoms (as well as the vendors) were still waiting to open, it was clear that the festival is going to be great. Gappo Park is situated just at the bay, so whether you prefer the sandy beach or the grass under the trees, it’s sure to have something for you! The trees were full of the singing of wild birds, and there were plenty of children enjoying themselves in the play areas.
After we left the park, we drove along a street lined with cherry blossoms. Not surprisingly, the name of the area is Sakuragawa – a place where you can find cherry blossoms beside the river. Simply driving through the beautiful trees gave a sense of serenity. There were also lanterns along the road advertising the Sakura Festival, during which the road is pedestrianized for an afternoon and there is music, food stalls, and more in the so-called ‘cherry blossom tunnel’ formed under the trees.
This year, the Gappo Park Spring Festival is taking place from April 22nd to May 7th, and the Sakuragawa Sakura Festival is taking place on the afternoon of April 22nd. However, these events are only a sample of what Aomori has to offer during cherry blossom season, so there is always something for everyone to enjoy.
The blossoms themselves only last a short few weeks, so hurry and experience hanami while they’re still here!