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Sensational sakura

For the Japanese, spring doesn't really start until the sakura, the Japanese cherry tree, blossoms. But Japan isn't the only country where people gather in March and April to celebrate the arrival of spring underneath flowering pink canopies. We will take you to three amazing cherry blossom festivals.

Celebrate spring
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Flowering time

In Japanese culture, the cherry blossom symbolises both the beauty and fleetingness of life: the trees only blossom for two weeks a year. The best time to admire the cherry blossoms in the northern hemisphere is from late March to late April, but the exact flowering time is hard to predict. All the more reason to welcome this spectacular display of natural beauty with exuberant celebrations when the time comes.

Kyoto, Japan

Picnic under the cherry blossoms

Hanami, or the art of admiring cherry blossoms, is an ancient Japanese tradition that remains very popular in the former imperial capital of Kyoto. As soon as the buds of the cherry trees begin to shoot, Japanese families get ready to enjoy leisurely picnics underneath the flowering trees. Maruyama Park next to the Yasaka Shrine is a popular area. 

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Impromptu food stands sell sake and traditional sweets you can share with other blossom admirers. Then take a stroll along the so-called Philosopher’s Path: the reflection of hundreds of blossoming cherry trees in the canal creates a spectacular image.  

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Take the train to the nearby historic city of Nara for breathtaking views of the mountains blanketed with cherry blossoms.

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SeanPavonePhoto / iStock

Washington D.C., United States

Celebrate Japanese culture

In 1902, the mayor of Tokyo presented the city of Washington D.C. with 3,000 cherry trees to celebrate the friendship between the United States and Japan. An inspired idea, as today the yearly National Cherry Blossom Festival attracts 1.5 million visitors to the city. This year’s event will take place from 20 March to 16 April.

For three weeks the US capital celebrates Japanese culture with dance performances, street art, kite-flying competitions, fireworks and food stands offering Japanese delicacies. Most of the activities centre around the Tidal Basin area in West Potomac Park where you will find the highest number of cherry trees.


Take a special water taxi from Georgetown to the Tidal Basin and enjoy the views of the Lincoln Memorial, the Jefferson Memorial, the Kennedy Center and the Pentagon.

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Jinhae, South Korea

340,000 blossoming trees

Every spring, the sleepy harbour town of Jinhae in South Korea becomes a magnet for couples in love. In early April, this region celebrates the largest cherry blossom festival in South Korea with up to 340,000 blossoming trees. For the most scenic views head to Yeojwacheon, where the cherry trees that line both sides of this narrow brook almost touch each other. 

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Another unique spot is Gyeonghwa Station with rows of cherry blossom trees adorning 800 metres of rail track. Film buffs will recognise this spot as the setting for the popular Korean film “Boy Goes To Heaven” (2005).

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Insung Jeon / Getty Images


For a romantic evening outing, visit the Yeojwacheon brook, which is beautifully decorated with lanterns  and colourful umbrellas.


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