Of all the perfect pairings in the world—wine and cheese, peanut butter and jelly, Bonnie and Clyde—few are as perfect as cherry blossoms and springtime. Although most famous in Japan, those who can't hop on a plane to Tokyo need not despair; these delicate pastel flowers can be enjoyed in multiple countries all over the globe. Here are six of the world’s best cities to spend your days beneath the sakura:
Cherry blossoms hold a special significance in Japan. Known as "flowers of renewal," celebrations known as hanami in the daytime and yozakura in the nighttime are held where people gather to enjoy their beauty and feast on good food. In Tokyo, hanami celebrations occur for approximately one week in late March, with March 26 marking the start date this year. We suggest seeing the blossoms from the famed Chidorigafuchi Moat, Ueno Park, or the Roppongi Sakuraka.
Washington DC, America
The 3020 cherry blossom trees in Washington DC have quite a history, beginning with their shipment to America in 1912 by the mayor of Tokyo. This gesture of friendship is still celebrated annually in DC's National Cherry Blossom Festival. The festivities include a Pink Tie Party, a kite festival, daily performance, a parade, and fireworks. This year’s festival occurs March 20th to April 16th. If you would rather enjoy them on your own, it is worthwhile to visit the Jefferson Memorial and admire the beautiful blooms from across the water.
Travel to the visually striking Kungsträdgården, or "King’s Garden" in Stockholm’s city center to view rows of pretty, ephemeral blossoms. Take a stroll through an art gallery, grab a coffee and a seat near the fountain and watch the hustle and bustle of the Swedish urban scene pass you by. The trees usually bloom in mid- to late-April, and around this time, the Japanese Association in Stockholm sets up artisanal stalls beneath them. The King’s Garden is an especially popular spot in Stockholm year-round. If you’re searching for a less touristy way to enjoy hanami in Sweden, Routes North recommends the beautiful Lumaparken.
Seoul, South Korea
The capital of South Korea captures beauty in many forms, whether in its remarkable blend of traditional and modern architecture, the dazzling lights along its walls and waterways, or the depths of culture and history that imbue the city itself. Cherry blossom trees are just another beautiful—and perhaps lesser-known—feature of Seoul. The best places to enjoy sakura season in Seoul include the five grand palaces and the ever so tranquil Seoul Forest. The sakura are expected to bloom April 6th this year.
This beautiful city on the Rhine is a place of historical and musical significance, but it is also home to the famous and enchanting Heerstrasse, or “Cherry Blossom Avenue”. The best time to visit Heerstrasse is in mid to late April, and the trees remain in bloom for two or three weeks. While you’re in Bonn, make sure to take some time to see the Altes Rathaus (Old Town Hall) and the Sterntor (stargate). Classical music buffs can catch a glimpse Beethoven’s House a few minutes away from Heerstrasse, and find the graves of Robert and Clara Schumann in the Alter Friedhof close by the city center.
Or perhaps you’d rather appreciate the sakura in the Great White North; the Pacific Rim city is famous for its Cherry Blossom Festival, which runs from March 20th to April 23rd, 2017. Attend the Big Picnic in Queen Elizabeth Park, the Plein Air Exhibition at the VanDusen Botanical Garden, or the lantern-filled Spring Lights Illumination. And if all these floral sights have got you feeling inspired, you can even send a haiku about it to the VCBF Haiku Invitational for a chance at literary fame.
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