Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Cherry blossom festival

On April 18th, Hubby and I went to see Cherry blossom festival at Seishi park in Nikaho city and at Honjo park in Yurihonjo city of Akita prefecture. Hanami (flower viewing) is the traditional Japanese custom of enjoying the beauty of flowers, usually cherry blossoms (sakura) or Japanese plum blossoms (ume). Sakura bloom in Japan from late January (in Okinawa) to early May (Hokkaido). These blossoms last only a week or two. The custom of enjoying hanami flowers is said to have started during the Nara period (710–794) due to the influence of Chinese Tang dynasty in Japan. Though it was ume blossoms that people admired in the beginning, by the Heian period (794-1185), sakura came to attract more attention. Sakura originally was used to announce the harvest of the year as well as the beginning of the rice-planting season. Emperor Saga of the Heian period started the practice of holding flower-viewing parties with sake and feasts underneath the cherry blossom trees in the imperial court in Kyoto. The custom was originally limited to the aristocratic people of the imperial court, but soon spread to samurai society, and by the Edo period, to the common people as well. In modern-day Japan, hanami mostly consists of having an outdoor party beneath the sakura during daytime or at night.

The day we went for sakura viewing was a clear day with very fine weather. So hubby was in a mood for a long drive. We started from our home at about twelve noon. First we went to see the sakura blossoms in Seishi park in Nikaho city. Hubby took a long way around and it took us almost an hour to reach the park from our home. On our way, we got a beautiful view of Mt. Chokai and many windmills in Nikaho city.
Mt. Chokai


Hubby also showed me the golf course in Nikaho city where he usually practices his swings on alternate weekends.
Golf course

Near Seishi park, we saw funny looking lamp posts in the shape of ship anchor.
Anchor shaped lamp posts

Sakura festival in Seishi park
Seishi park surrounds a lake and is ringed with cherry trees, which were in full bloom. There was festival mood everywhere in the park. Lots of families, groups of friends, and even groups from companies sat under the fully open cherry blossoms and were having a picnic celebration.
Sakura festival

People having picnic in the park

There were about one thousand fully bloomed cherry blossoms in the park overlooking Mt. Chokai, which created a phenomenal view.

View in the park

Many people were leisurely taking a walk on the pedestrian road surrounded by sakura blossom. It was a superb view.

Road surrounded by Sakura trees

Almost all the sakura were of the variety called somei yoshino. Its flowers are nearly pure white, tinged with the palest pink, especially near the stem. They bloom and usually fall within a week, before the leaves come out. Therefore, the trees look nearly white from top to bottom.

Few photos of blooming sakura trees

Close up view of sakura blossoms

Hubby took a few photos of me with the sakura blossoms.

Me posing with sakura blossoms

I also took several photos of hubby while he strolled in the park.

Hubby posing with sakura blossoms

Sakura festival in Honjo park
After enjoying the hanami in Seishi park, we returned to Yurihonjo. In Yurihonjo, we went to Honjo park to enjoy the sakura festival. Honjo park also surrounds a lake and is ringed with cherry trees, which were in full bloom. There was festival mood everywhere and many people were enjoying snacks at several stalls near the entrance of the park.
Entrance of Honjo park sakura festival

Food stalls in the park

Hubby and I took a leisurely walk in the park and enjoyed viewing the sakura blossoms.

Honjo park sakura blossoms

View from top of a bridge in the park

In this park also, almost all the sakura trees were of the variety somei yoshino with pure white flowers. However, we noticed another variety called yaezakura, which had relatively large flowers, thick with rich pink petals. It was so beautiful.

Somei yoshino sakura


Hubby took a few photos of me in the park.

Me posing with sakura blossoms

I also took a few photos of hubby walking and enjoying the sakura blossoms.

Hubby posing with sakura blossoms

Hubby watching something on a sakura tree

It was a bird on the sakura tree

It started to get dark as hubby and I strolled through Honjo park. After some time we returned back home very happy and peaceful. It was really a wonderful day for us as we immensely enjoyed viewing the sakura blossoms. Now the sakura bloom has already fallen in Akita prefecture and fresh green leaves adorn the sakura trees, which is also very pleasing to the eyes.


Sonal said...

Beautiful pictures and excellent description. Enjoyed reading about it. Thanks!

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks for your comment Sonal. Every year I eagerly wait for the cherry blossom season. Sakura is so beautiful.

google said...

excellent fotos...

Banashree said...

Didi.. You have taken excellent photos and the description is worth reading. After I saw a news clipping about Cherry Blossom festival, I was eager to know more about this festival.

Very well written..Good luck to you.

sasabyasachi said...

tomar lekha pore o chobi dekhe amader ekhaner "semul" "polas" phooler kotha mone porche....jodeo tomar chobir phool gulo sob white ar semul , polas phool laal {red}...tumi jodi rabindra nath tegorer "santinikatan" e kokhono spring time e berate aso tahole "semul" , "polas","krishnochura" phooler apurbo beauty dekhte pabe. tomar sundor bornona porte o pic gulo dekhte bhaloi laglo.[:)]

Jayaprakash said...

Hi Manisha, let me comment your new article as belletristic and I believe the aesthetic value of this post with eye-catching photos of Sakura blossoms makes this blog more beautiful.

I am going to put a link to this post from my blog where I have written about O-hanami festival. Think this is OK for you.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks google for your comment.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Banashree for reading the blog post and appreciating the photos..... Cherry blossom festival (hanami) is one of the most important festival in Japan. I eagerly look forward to hanami every year.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thank you very much for your comment Sabyasachi. I have heard about semul, polas, and krishnochura flowers but have never seen them. I saw the photos in the internet and yes, they are very beautiful..... I would like to add that in Sakura trees, first the flowers bloom, and then when the bloom has fallen, fresh green leaves start appearing in the trees.

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Jayaprakash for your very nice comment.... It is fine with me if you link this post to your blog.

Vaijayanti said...

Lovely! Faantabulous! :)

Manisha Kundu-Nagata said...

Thanks Vaijayanti :) This is a very old post. Hubby and I have been to Sakura festival two more times since 2009, and also posted a few pictures here in the blog. Please do visit the blog whenever you get time or mood.