No.183 (3/11/11)

Ohanami: Appreciate spring and cherry blossoms

By Ryoko Uechin
Guest Writer

While mainland in Japan is still in cold winter, Okinawa has started appreciating spring. The cherry blossom season in Okinawa is a different kind than that in mainland Japan. It is called Hikan-zakura. The color of the flower is dark pink, while cherry blossoms in mainland Japan are almost all white. In Okinawa, most people enjoy viewing cherry blossoms as opposed to eating and drinking under the cherry blossom trees, as people in the mainland do. Because of the different kinds of cherry blossoms, cherry blossoms generally start from the north and goes down in south in Okinawa.

During mid-January to February, cherry blossoms start blooming, along with cherry blossom festivals. Motobu Yaedake Sakura Festival is scheduled to take place from January 15 to February 6. It is located in the northern part of Okinawa. It takes about a 90-minute drive using a toll road from the capital city of Naha. More than 4,000 sakura (cherry blossoms) show their vivid pink colors from the base of Mount Yaedake, whose distance uphill to the peak is 453 meters. You can take a walk or drive through arcade-like cherry blossom trees. If you want to enjoy more nature, you can stop by Izumi village while heading to Mount Yaedake. Since picking Okinawa oranges known as Tankan is in season, you can enjoy both cherry blossoms and Okinawa orange.

Nearby Motobu town, Nakijin town also have Castle Park Cherry Blossom Festival from January 22nd until February 6th. Since the festival is held at a castle ruin, you can enjoy historic site and beautiful nature. There's a 400yen admission fee to the castle ruins for adults, while school students pay 300yen.

Yaese town located in southern part of Okinawa will have the Yaese town Cherry Blossom Festival on January 27th. The Shuri Castle located in Naha city will hold Flower Festival on February 5 to February 13th. You will enjoy not only cherry blossoms but also a lot of colorful flowers and flower arts.

For more information, please visit the Motobu Yaedake Cherry Blossom Festival Web site at, or call 0980-47-2700; The Castle Park Cherry Blossom Festival in Nakijin town Web site at, or call 098-998-4624; the Yaese town Cherry Blossom Festival Web site at, or call 098-998-4624; or check the web page at The Shuri Castle flower festival Web site at

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